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UK-US Free Trade Agreement

Volume 677: debated on Thursday 18 June 2020

We have just commenced round 2 of trade negotiations with the United States. Talks so far have been positive and constructive, but I am absolutely clear that we will only sign up for a deal that benefits all parts of the UK and all sectors of the UK.

In the absence of any final agreement between Britain and the EU on trading arrangements beyond the end of this year, is it not impossible for the UK and the US to have a meaningful discussion about the extent to which the UK’s regulatory framework can diverge from the EU’s in any future trade deal? Does that not mean that the chances of actually getting a deal with the US done and through Congress before the November election are virtually nil?

Let me be absolutely clear that we have not set a timetable for completion of the negotiations with the United States, because we are concentrating on getting a good deal rather than meeting any particular negotiation timetable. I am afraid that the hon. Lady is absolutely wrong with respect to the EU, because we have been clear that we are not aligned with EU regulations. We have our own independent regulatory regime and we are negotiating with all our trading partners, whether the US, Australia, New Zealand or Japan, on that basis.

The Government have repeatedly promised this House and the British public that they are committed to non-regression on food standards. However, there is great concern over a number of practices in the US that are currently banned in the UK, such as the widespread use of antibiotics to increase growth in animals. As the Government approach their negotiations on a trade deal with the US, does the Secretary of State accept that it is time to put that commitment to non-regression on food standards into law?

I could not have been more clear: these food standards are already in British law as part of the EU withdrawal agreement, and we are not negotiating those as part of our negotiations with the United States or any other trade partner.