US trade deal post-Brext could take longer than some hope, says Fox
A post-Brexit trade deal with the US would take longer than people expected due to the crossover of federal and state jurisdictions and the upcoming presidential election, said International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.
He was responding to media reports that Boris Johnson wanted a deal in place by the time the UK is due to leave the EU on October 31 if he became prime minister.
In what appeared to be a warning to Johnson, Fox told the BBC no deal could be agreed before the UK formally left the EU, adding that it would be a breach of European law to do so.
“One of the things you have to remember about the US is that not all trade policy is actually done at the federal government level,” he said.
“A great deal of the trade policy is done at the state level, particularly in the non-tariff barriers to trade, things like regulation. We have been increasing the number of our staff in the US who are expert at the state-to-state level.”
He added that there was the “added complication” of the approach of the US pre-election year in November, where the passage of law through Congress slowed down.
“So even if you negotiate them (deals) quickly you wouldn’t necessarily get to ratify them.”
There could also be snags around trying to split negotiations on food and agriculture, Fox told the broadcaster.
UK consumers are concerned that domestic welfare and food standards could be watered down in return for a swift deal. Issues such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef have already been raised, causing minor friction with the US.
“If you go to the US and you say we’re going to take any discussions on agricultural access off the agenda, you will find that they close down pretty quickly in terms of the willingness to discuss things,” he said.