Britain set to lobby new U.S trade rep on lamb, scotch whisky

By reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden has nominated Katherine Tai as U.S. trade representative and confirmation hearings are scheduled in the Senate later this week.

LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Britain’s international trade minister Liz Truss said on Tuesday she plans to lobby the Biden administration on lamb and Scotch whisky as soon as a new trade representative has been confirmed.

“I shall be making an early call to her, first of all to seek progress on removing the ban on British lamb into the U.S. but also removing the tariffs on Scotch whisky,” she said at the annual conference of the National Farmers Union.

The U.S. banned imports of British lamb and beef in 1989 following outbreaks of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease.

The ban on beef imports was lifted last year.

Tariffs were imposed to Scotch whisky in 2019 by the Trump administration as part of a trade dispute with the European Union over subsidies provided to Airbus.

Truss said there was a huge opportunity to expand trade with the United States but said she was prepared to lower food standards to pave the way for a deal.

There have been concerns that a trade deal with the United States might lead to imports of U.S. meat produced under conditions which are not allowed in Britain or the European Union such as hormone-treated beef.

“I think there is a beneficial deal to be done but in the same way we are not going to allow the EU to dictate our standards we are not going to allow the U.S. to dictate our standards either,” she said.

Truss said a campaign was also being launched on Tuesday to help U.K. farmers export more produce to the world’s biggest and fastest growing markets.

“We know that meat prices are higher in Asia than Europe. Demand for British food and drink is growing around the rest of the world. And in 2019 the United States is the world’s second largest beef importer,” Truss said.

Britain applied in late January to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) whose members include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam. (Reporting by Nigel Hunt; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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