UK Trade Policy: US Presidential Election

International Trade – in the House of Commons on 19th November 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Labour, Denton and Reddish

What assessment she has made of the potential effect on UK trade policy of the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election.

Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Transport)

What assessment she has made of the potential effect on UK trade policy of the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election.

Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

What assessment she has made of the potential effect on UK trade policy of the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election.

Photo of Mark Hendrick Mark Hendrick Labour/Co-operative, Preston

What assessment she has made of the potential effect on UK trade policy of the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

What assessment she has made of the potential effect on UK trade policy of the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election.

Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Opposition Whip (Commons)

What assessment she has made of the potential effect on UK trade policy of the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election.

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

We have made good progress on our US deal, agreeing the majority of text and the majority of chapters. We are working with both sides of the House in the US for a deal that benefits both our two nations.

Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Labour, Denton and Reddish

But if the Secretary of State’s global Britain is to mean anything, we must not put all our eggs in one basket. I think it fair to say that, in recent times, the Secretary of State has bet everything on securing a trade deal with the Trump Administration. She might want to conclude a deal with Canada, but the Prime Minister there said that the Secretary of State had lacked the “bandwidth” to focus on getting a deal with his country. Does she intend to ignore that criticism and continue making a deal with the US her dominant priority? If so, what confidence does she have that the Biden Administration will feel the same way in terms of their own priorities for trade?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

We have now secured trade deals with 52 countries. We have secured a deal with Japan that goes beyond and above the EU’s agreements, we are working on accession to the trans-Pacific partnership and we are negotiating with Australia and New Zealand, so we are by no means entirely focused on the US, but it is our largest single country trading partner. I am always struck by the anti-Americanism among Opposition Members. They simply do not understand that these deals are incredibly important for British business. As for the comments from overseas Governments on our trade negotiations, it is interesting that Labour Members simply like to repeat their “lines to take”. Maybe they need to think of some of their own ideas.

Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Transport)

We are all aware, sadly, that the Prime Minister has a litany of racist, sexist and homophobic remarks, but to the detriment of our national interest, it seems that some of his foul-mouthedness has now caught up with him. In particular, his derogatory remarks on President—

Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Transport)

It seems that the Prime Minister’s foul-mouthedness has now caught up with him. In particular, his derogatory description of President Obama being part-Kenyan with an ancestral dislike of the British empire—

Photo of Lindsay Hoyle Lindsay Hoyle Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

Order. I am sorry, this has to be linked to the trade question. This is completely off beam. I am sorry, but we have got to stick to the question. As important as this matter is, and the hon. Gentleman quite rightly wishes to get it in, this is not the question to do so—

Photo of Helen Hayes Helen Hayes Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

One of many sources of hope at the US election result is that after four years of climate change denial, President-elect Biden is talking about the global climate crisis and the action we must take to address it. Will the Secretary of State support him in those endeavours by guaranteeing to put climate change co-operation and green technology at the heart of any US-UK trade deal?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

I am absolutely delighted to hear somebody on the Labour Benches being in favour of a trade deal. That is a real step forward. Of course we will have strong environmental provisions at the heart of our trade deal with the United States. I remember that Labour Members did not support a trade deal with President Obama, and they do not support a trade deal with the current Administration, but I am delighted to hear that they are supporting a trade deal with the new Administration. I look forward to working with them to ensure that the climate change provisions are excellent.

Photo of Mark Hendrick Mark Hendrick Labour/Co-operative, Preston

A new US President and Congress will not ratify a trade deal if we scupper the Good Friday agreement; our banning of Huawei infrastructure has angered China, and now this Government are prepared to break international law in the way we leave the European Union. How many major global trading partners are this Government prepared to upset before they do more harm to our economy than covid-19 has done already?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

We have already done trade deals with 52 countries and we are on course to do many more, and we are absolutely committed to the Good Friday agreement.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull North

As one of the MPs for the Humber energy estuary, where we are doing pioneering work in areas such as carbon capture, it is heartwarming to hear American President-elect Biden talking about the global climate crisis and the action needed to address it, and seeing this as a way of generating the jobs of the future. Will the Secretary of State expand a little on what she thinks can be put into any trade deals in terms of this country’s green technology and making sure this creates the jobs needed on both this side of the Atlantic and the other?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

In the new UK global tariff we have reduced the tariffs on 100 green goods, and we want to encourage more other countries to support that. Of course we are committed to working with the US, and next year we will have the presidency of the G7. That is a really good opportunity for us to pursue that agenda of tackling climate change, alongside our COP26 commitments, and of course we will be looking at putting these in all our trade deals.

Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Opposition Whip (Commons)

Although we would all want a successful outcome to any trade negotiations with the US, will the Secretary of State confirm that, according to the Government’s own best-case scenario, any US deal with the UK will account for growth of only 0.16% over 15 years? Will she confirm what this will translate into if we do not get a deal with the EU? What loss in growth will we sustain?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

Our assessment suggests that a £15 billion increase in trade will result from a US deal and also that we will see tariffs of half a billion pounds taken off fantastic British companies, be they in ceramics or the car industry, which will help to boost that growth. But the EU deal and the US deal are not in contradiction to each other; we should be aiming to do both. The problem is that the Labour party seems willing to agree any deal with the EU and willing to agree no deal with the US. What Conservative Members want is a good deal for Britain.

Photo of Emily Thornberry Emily Thornberry Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade

President-elect Biden has spoken powerfully about the need to end support for the war in Yemen and to stop selling arms that Saudi uses, in his words, for “murdering children”. Will the Secretary of State revisit her policy on arms sales in the light of the new President’s statement or will she choose to remain in lockstep with the blood prince bin Salman instead?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

I am proud that we have one of the most rigorous defence export regimes in the world, and those are decisions we make on the basis of our values in this country.