UK Joining the US-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement Shot Down as Biden Snubs Post-Brexit Deal

TOPSHOT - Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and US President Joe Biden, wearing face coverings due to Covid-19, view documents relating to the Atlantic Charter prior to a bi-lateral meeting at Carbis Bay, Cornwall on June 10, 2021, ahead of the three-day G7 summit being held from 11-13 June. …
TOBY MELVILLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was forced to backtrack on seeking to join the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) after President Joe Biden’s administration said there is no way for the UK to join.

Speaking to reporters alongside Mr Biden on Monday, Mr Johnson admitted that the prospects of inking a bilateral trade deal with the United States — once seen as a key pillar of Britain’s post-Brexit strategy — does not appear good, saying that Biden has a “lot of fish to fry“.

Now, the prospect of even securing benefits of joining the free trade pact between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. crafted by the Trump administration, have been quashed by the government after early reports indicated it was going to be the strategy of the UK.

When asked about the possibility of joining the USMCA at a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, a Downing Street spokesman said per the Daily Mail: “That is not an approach we are currently taking.”

The statement comes after the US Trade Representative (USTR) noted that there was no ability for other countries to join the pact, which in any event was tailored to the three countries involved and likely would have only garnered minimal benefit to Britain.

Trying to put a positive spin on the seemingly dire trade prospects, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I can tell you today that what we’re going to get from the United States now is a lifting of the decades-old ban, totally unjustified, discriminating on British farmers and British lamb.

“It’s about time too. And what we’re wanting to do is make solid incremental steps in trade.

“The Biden administration is not doing free trade deals around the world right now but I’ve got absolutely every confidence that a great deal is there to be done.

“And there are plenty of people in that building behind me who certainly want a deal.”

When pressed on the status of trade negotiations with Britain on Tuesday evening, Mr Biden said: “We’re going to talk a little bit about trade today and we’re going to have to work that through.”

With the prospects of a post-Brexit trade deal during the rest of Biden’s term and the USMCA idea squashed, the only option seemingly open to the UK is to sign limited trade deals for specific industries, which the government believes the Biden administration would be more amenable to as the progressive faction of Democrats in the congress are currently opposed to large-scale agreements.

Leading figures from the Brexit movement, including Nigel Farage, have criticised the Tory governments of former PM Theresa May and Boris Johnson for squandering the opportunity of coming to a deal with former President Donald Trump, an avid supporter of the pro-sovereignty movement and proponent of a trade deal with the UK during his presidency.

In contrast to Mr Trump, President Biden has long been an opponent of Brexit, stretching back to when he served as vice president to Barack Obama, who famously declared that the UK would be put at the “back of the queue” if voters decided to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

“The government had many years to do a wide-reaching trade deal with America under the Trump administration. It could have been done by now, but May and Johnson completely blew it,” Mr Farage said on Monday.

Responding to the failure to make progress on a trade deal with Mr Biden, Brexit leader Nigel Farage said on Tuesday: “Our PM goes on and on about British beef exports to the USA but is completely mute on a trade deal.

“Boris, where’s the beef?”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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