In scenes at the US Capitol last week, Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May evoked memories of the special relationship enjoyed by their historical predecessors, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The two current leaders agreed that an early priority for both is a UK-US trade deal and Trump has even said he wants one established “quick”.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) praised Trump’s courtship of May and expressed an eagerness to strengthen “historic ties” with the UK.
“We applaud the Trump administration for recognising the importance of free trade agreements to American agriculture and the entire US economy,” said NPPC president John Weber who is also 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.
“In pursuing better trade with the UK and working towards a free trade agreement with it, I think the administration recognised that TTIP isn’t going anywhere.
“We’re pleased President Trump is instead focusing on bolstering our historic ties with the UK,” Weber said.
Fissure with EU
Politically, the UK and the US have a special relationship, but the same may not be true for the respective pork sectors. The US exported only $3.7m worth of pork to the UK in the 12 months up to October 2016, according to data we receive exclusively from World Trade Stats (WTS). In contrast, Japan is the biggest market for US pork, with $1.4bn-worth shipped to the country over the same period, according to WTS.
With the US exiting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), of which Japan is a member, US pork will not benefit from a tariff slash that would have been a formality under the ambitious multinational trade pact.
Another trade deal that looks in jeopardy is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a bilateral pact between the US and the European Union (EU). Trump has been equivocal about his desire to exit large multi-state trade deals, in favour of two-way ones.
While the NPPC has been “supportive” of TTIP, Webber said he was “sceptical” that US hog farmers would get a good deal out of the agreement. He said the EU’s “intransigence” on cutting tariff and non-tariff barriers on pork had been an issue. By contrast, European bodies have warned that EU animal welfare and food safety standards could be watered down by trading meat with the US.