LibLInk: Alex Cole-Hamilton: On selling our souls for a US trade deal

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton is a vocal opponent of Donald Trump. He’s always had a massive interest in US politics. In 2008, he and his best friend Kevin Lang went out to Virginia to campaign for Barack Obama.

He’s written for the Scottish Lib Dems website to talk Trump and trade deals – specifically why we mustn’t allow our commitment to human rights to be diminished.

Many have watched in horror as the progressive legacy of Barrack Obama has been comprehensively devoured in the early days of Donald Trump’s post-truth presidency and with it, a cold awakening to a new kind of America.

That matters. Much of the hopes of the Brexiteers were pinned on a swift and fulsome trade detail with America to mitigate the trade vacuum caused by us (somewhat rashly) pushing the ejector seat button on the Treaty of Rome. Trump’s rhetoric in his inaugural address is a clear and present threat to that plan.

In advance of her meeting with the 45th President, the Prime Minister said that in partnership with Donald Trump our two nations can ‘lead the world again’. That’s a bullish claim, and one designed to appeal to the Donald’s sense of entitlement. But in these fractured times how can this be possible? The world is gazing at Brexit Britain, with a sense of alarm only tempered by their terror at the witness they bear to the birth of Trump’s new order.

Trump’s uncompromising America First rhetoric does not bode well for our future trade deal:

During the EU Referendum the Brexiteers called on the British people to take back control. But how much control are we going to have when we need to engage with a country whose leader’s first impulse is to insert punitive, protectionist caveats into deals that put the interests of his country above all others?

Put simply, Theresa May is leading Britain into a new alliance which affords us far less influence than we enjoyed within the EU. A partnership with a leader who fails to understand the simple definition of partnership will only take us for granted.

There isn’t much hope from Theresa May’s Government:

My hope is that Theresa May will use these pillars of British sensibility to bring Trump and post-truth America to its senses. The signs aren’t encouraging:

We have a Tory Government pandering to the xenophobic, insular right wing of its own party as it  pirouettes over EU departure and if there was any resistance shown to Trump in the US last week it comes in the odd and highly inappropriate form of a state visit and holding hands.

In that context I rather suspect that the world she talks of leading smacks more of days of empire and the 19th century, than of the cosmopolitan and liberal society that I want to help build.

You can read the whole article here.

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7 Comments

  • Richard Easter 5th Feb '17 - 12:19pm

    Trump trade may not be great, but at least it is likely to have full scrutiny in parliament, unlike the wretched CETA and TTIP deals, which are nothing more than a planned economy to benefit multinational corporations.

    Trump appears on the surface to be sceptical of the abhorrent ISDS, I’ll believe it when I see it personally, and has ranted on about how he wants the ability to withdraw from these deals in 30 days. Presumably then if Trump Trade is a NAFTA corporate sovereignty grab, we can at least terminate it far easier than CETA.

    Not to mention Trump may spell the end for TISA, another corporate assault which very little is known about…

  • The TTIP negotiations between the EU and the US have de facto failed.
    The TPP did not include China and with the US no longer a part of it the agreement maybe recast to include China and thus something similar to China’s originally proposed RCEP may emerge. Trump’s anti-Chinese policy may well help to strengthen China in the long run.

  • nigel hunter 5th Feb '17 - 2:45pm

    I am not an economics guru but where deals are concerned economies of scale come into the deal. If Trump swamps us with cheap chicken (mass production techniques) and therefore can reduce the cost of transport over the ‘Pond’ what do we produce in likewise large amounts to do the same? Our productivity level is low, therefore higher costs to start with. Does this mean lower wages to enable to trade ‘like for like’, we will become poorer. Remember Trump is for America not us ,beware of deals with him. Remember that the EU is just a stones throw away much better to trade with.

  • A trade deal with the US will inevitably require the UK giving various US lobbying groups what they want. For instance, the US food and agricultural industries will demand a weakening of our EU-derived food safety standards to allow growth-hormone fed beef and chlorine-washed poultry products. We are also unlikely to get anything like the Privacy Shield data protection that the EU has just agreed with the US.

    We won’t be negotiating from a position of strength. Will Theresa May take the view that no deal is better than a bad deal with the US?

  • Julian Tisi 7th Feb '17 - 10:46pm

    “Trump trade may not be great, but at least it is likely to have full scrutiny in parliament, unlike the wretched CETA and TTIP deals”

    I never believed that the paranoia surrounding TTIP and CETA were remotely justified. Particularly given that the deals would have needed to be ratified by each side and the EU was not entering the negotiations from a position of weakness or desperation. There is no conceivable way that either side would have agreed to a bad deal for their side and nor did they need to.

    Contrast that with a possible bespoke deal between the UK and Trump’s US. There is a massive power disparity – the US economy is something like 7 times the size of our own. And while the US barely needs the deal we will be desperate for it, if we can’t get a good deal with the EU having left the single market. This is a deal we DO need to be scared about.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Aug '17 - 10:58pm

    Former trade minister Digby Jones, now a peer, wrote about US anti-dumping on steel.
    “Bush’s tariff was in breach of World Trade Organisation rules and there was an initial ruling against the US –
    Bush prevaricated and then the European Union justified its existence,
    BRINGING CLOUT THAT NO INDIVIDUAL MEMBER STATE COULD HAVE DELIVERED.
    Its 520 million consumers happen to like orange juice, which was imported mainly from Brazil and Florida. So it was made very clear to the Us that if it continued with the steel tariff, then the EU might not allow the import of Florida orange juice. …
    Sure enough Bush gave way. The tariff was withdrawn, nothing changed.”
    I have omitted exclamation marks of which Lord Jones is unduly fond.

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