There were many public protests with the arrival of Donald Trump to the shores of Britain and contrary to his own beliefs, Trump is not well-liked at all by ordinary British citizens. What was strange though was the fact that there were no protests at all in Britain for the arrival of one of the world’s most destructive individuals – John Bolton – and he came to ensure Britain does what it is told over Huawei, Iran and China before any trade deal can be signed.
His arrival is a dark day for Britain. It signifies what the Trump administration expects of its latest geopolitical scalp.
Sam Lowe from the Centre for European Reform said –
“Remember that Bolton is not a trade expert. All he cares about is getting leverage to get the U.K. to follow the U.S. on Huawei, Iran and China.”
John Bolton’s proposal for the sectoral U.S.-U.K. post-Brexit trade deal has caused rather childish excitement in London, with many trade experts not in the slightest impressed.
When the U.S. asks Britain to sign on the dotted trade deal line, it will be Congress, organisations representing the likes of U.S. farmers, and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer who dictate the conditions, not the musings Trump’s international chief enforcer.
“What Bolton is proposing is not realistic,” said Lowe – “Why would Congress sign off on anything that doesn’t have agriculture included?”
Lowe forgot to mention that access to the NHS and pharmaceutical business is dependent on this US trade deal.
Any trade deal with the U.S. needs to be ratified by Congress — where Democrats have a majority in the House of Representatives, and interest groups such as farmers, frackers, the chemicals industry work to make sure any trade deal is in their favour. If it isn’t in there, there’s no deal.
“All Congress cares about is dismantling the EU’s regulatory approach to food and chemicals,” Lowe argued. “Any deal that falls short of that would not be ratified, regardless of Bolton’s assurances.”
Politico publishes a case in point: Congress has been holding up Trump’s new USMCA deal with Canada and Mexico for months over dairy exports, lumber tariffs, and weak labour rights protections. It has made clear the U.S. won’t even consider negotiating a trade agreement with the EU that doesn’t include market openings for U.S. beef and chicken.
Bolton did not mention this inconvenience during his visit in London, because he had other goals in mind.
“For Bolton, the promise of a trade deal is a carrot to get U.K. cooperation on security issues,” Lowe said.
The need for Boris Johnson’s administration to show that Brexit will be a success has not gone unnoticed in Washington. Promising trade deals gets Bolton friends in Downing Street without costing anything.
David Henig, director of the U.K. Trade Policy Project, pointed out another flaw in Bolton’s proposal:
“Partial trade deals that reduce tariffs in one sector are not legal under WTO rules.”
While “Trump and Bolton have shown before that they care little for WTO rules, the U.K., on the other hand, needs a well-functioning WTO,” Henig added.
It’s what London will have to rely on to trade with the EU and other countries if it leaves the bloc without a deal. Let’s not forget that Britain’s application to the WTO was rejected last August by other member states, specifically the USA as the UK’s application was not to their taste.
A Department for International Trade spokesperson said:
“We have already laid the groundwork for an ambitious, creative trade deal with the U.S. and are working hard to take advantage of the golden opportunity to increase trade between our countries as we leave the EU. We will set out our approach to negotiations in due course.”
We should also not forget that a full trade deal with the United States offers very little to Britain – in fact, it has been calculated that in real terms, Britain’s GDP will rise by just 0.2 per cent with a US/UK trade deal. On the other hand, America gets to fully exploit the fifth largest economy in the world.
A trade deal as outlined by John Bolton will not see the light of day – as Lowe put it:
“The U.S. didn’t get to where they are in the world by being unnecessarily nice to countries that are slightly desperate.”
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