The Trump administration over the weekend announced it would pursue closer trade relations with the United Kingdom, news welcomed by the National Pork Producers Council, which urged the administration to begin talks as soon as possible.
Meeting last week at the White House, President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed to hold preliminary talks on a trade deal, which can’t be finalized until the U.K. leaves the European Union. (The U.K. in June 2016 voted to get out of the economic bloc, which was formed after World War II to promote economic growth and to avoid conflict among the 28 member countries.)
“We applaud the Trump administration for recognizing the importance of free trade agreements to American agriculture and the entire U.S. economy,” said NPPC President John Weber, a pork producer from Dysart, Iowa. “We’re pleased that it will work for a stronger trade relationship with the United Kingdom through a mutually beneficial trade agreement.”
Trump and May agreed to set up a working groups to consider ways to improve trade between the countries before the United Kingdom, which consists of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, exits the EU. The so-called Brexit process may take up to two years.
At a Friday press conference with the president, May said the countries will work to “lay the groundwork for a U.K.-U.S. trade agreement and identify the practical steps we can take now in order to enable companies in both countries to trade and do business with one another more easily.”
Given its desire to negotiate a free trade agreement with the U.K., it is unclear if the Trump administration will continue trade talks with the EU through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Those negotiations have been limping along nearly since the TTIP was initiated in 2013.
Although NPPC had been supportive of the TTIP, it was skeptical that U.S. hog farmers – or any other farmers – would get a good deal out of the agreement given the EU’s intransigence on eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers on agricultural products, including pork.
“In pursuing better trade with the U.K. and working toward a free trade agreement with it, I think the administration recognized that TTIP isn’t going anywhere,” Weber said. “We’re pleased President Trump is instead focusing on bolstering our historic ties with the U.K.”