Donald Trump could have hands tied on US-UK trade deal even if he wins election

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Voters in the US and around the world nervously await the final ballots to be counted as the US election result hangs in the balance. Currently, Democrat Joe Biden appears to be ahead. As things stand he is closer to reaching the 270 Electoral College vote threshold, with 238 to the incumbent Donald Trump’s 213.

The election has been closely watched the world over as the victor will have considerable influence in global political discourse.

Many experts and political observers have suggested that the UK would likely be better off economically if Mr Trump were to win.

Yet, as one economist told, Mr Trump may be refused to strike a deal with the UK should the political makeup of Congress – the US equivalent of Parliament – weigh in favour of the Democrats, even if the incumbent wins.

There are currently more Democrats in the House of Representatives, 232 to 198 Republicans, while the latter slightly outweighs the former in the Senate by eight members.


As set out in the US Constitution, Presidents are not elected directly by voters, but by those state candidates voted for in the popular vote.

What counts is the number of Electoral College votes a candidate receives and, as things stand, Mr Biden has secured more.

In recent weeks, he has said that if he secures the Presidency, then the UK should not necessarily expect to secure a lucrative trade deal.

This is after he opposed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to pass the internal market bill through Parliament, in what Mr Biden said could fly in the face of the Good Friday Agreement.

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Meanwhile, Mr Trump has said he is ready to do a trade deal with Mr Johnson, his willingness rooted in the good relations the two have enjoyed in years passed.

All of this, Mark Littlewood, the director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), concluded, could result in Mr Trump being refused his ideal US-UK trade deal.

Mr Littlewood explained: “I suspect that a trade deal is more likely if Trump is reelected, and a little less likely if Joe Biden prevails.

“Obviously it depends to some considerable degree on the makeup of Congress, not just those in power.


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“You could get into a situation in which Trump is reelected but Congress is in the hands of the Democrats.

“So, even if Trump wants a trade deal he might not be able to get it through.

“But I would think we’re probably in a better position with the incumbent than with the challenger and that in part is because we would have to go back to the drawing board in the event of there being a new administration.”

Mr Littlewood added, however, that a trade deal under Mr Biden wouldn’t be entirely written off.

Although it would be considerably less lucrative.

In the case of any deal, there are huge vested interests and barriers to overcome on both sides of the Atlantic.

Agriculture is perhaps the biggest issue.

The UK appears to be wary of competing with US agriculture as American farmers would severely undercut their produce.

There are other sensitive areas too.

When talking about a post-Brexit deal with the US, Mr Trump said “everything was on the table”, including the NHS.

A treasured national institution, everything “being on the table” in the case of UK healthcare could translate to privatisation and subsequent soaring costs for Britons.

Many commentators have noted that following Mr Johnson’s battle with coronavirus earlier this year, he would now be reluctant to trade-off the NHS after it helped him get back to full health.

Mr Johnson has, in fact, gone as far as to “vow” to protect the NHS and food safety, as well as animal welfare.

The latter came after reports suggested a trade deal with the US would see masses of chlorinated chicken imported into the UK.

Earlier this week, however, the Government put to bed the rumours, promising not to allow chlorinated chicken or hormone-fed beef on British supermarket shelves.

This was in spite of US demands that UK animal welfare standards be lowered as part of a deal.

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