Mobilizing for US-UK trade as Trump denies possibility of deal
As President Donald Trump visited the United Kingdom this week, he criticized, in an interview with a British publication, Prime Minister Theresa May’s approach to Brexit, and claimed that, as a result, the possibility of a trade deal between the United States and the UK were diminished.
The British government issued a policy paper this week which opted for a “soft Brexit,” in which the UK would leave the European Union but remain a part of the European customs union and maintain other ties with the EU. This prompted the departure of three government ministers, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who favor a cleaner break with the EU.
Trump criticized May’s soft Brexit approach, claiming he had advised her otherwise and that May spurned his advice. The president added that May’s approach tanked the possibility of a US-UK trade deal because the US would have to deal with the EU on trade matters, not the UK.
In the US Congress, Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) recently launched the Senate UK Trade Caucus to grow support for a trade agreement between the two countries.
The caucus “is dedicated to promoting the benefits of Anglo-American trade and helping lay the groundwork for an eventual trade agreement between our countries,” said Portman, when the caucus was organized.
“The United Kingdom is one of the most important markets for US exports,” added Coons. “Thousands of American businesses and millions of jobs depend on fair and open trade with the UK.”
ACTION for Trade, a coalition of companies from the pharmaceutical, tech, film, and recording industries committed to safeguarding protections for intellectual property, wrote a letter to the senators the other day commending the launch of the caucus.
“A U.S.-UK trade agreement would present an excellent opportunity for both countries to set a high bar for intellectual property protections in a free trade agreement and serve as a model for others in promoting creativity and innovation,” said Brian Pomper, executive director of ACTION for Trade.
IP-intensive industries in the United States support 58 million jobs and comprise 38 percent of the US GDP. They also account for more than half of all US exports, according to the organization.
The UK imported over $3.6 billion worth of medicines in 2017 alone and UK firms paid $4.4 billion to license American audio-visual works in 2016.
“The UK is our 7th largest export market,” said Pomper. “We should strive to strengthen this relationship through strong IP protections in a bilateral trade agreement.”
Weak international IP protections negatively impact a diverse array of US industries, he added. The US loses $227 billion every year due to counterfeiting, pirating, and the theft of trade secrets from around the world.
“The Senate UK Trade Caucus,” Pomper said, “has a unique opportunity to help to set a modern precedent for IP protections in international trade agreements.”