British Prime Minister Boris Johnson conceded that a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States was not imminent, as he said he was confident the US ban on imports of British lamb for decades would be lifting.
A day after President Joe Biden downplayed the prospect of a trade deal by not pushing back on a suggestion that Britain was at the back of the pack, Johnson said British farmers, especially those in Wales, would soon be able to export lamb to the United States. once again.
“I can tell you today that what we are going to get from the US now is a decades-old, utterly unwarranted lifting of the ban that discriminates against UK farmers and lamb. British, ”he told reporters outside the US Capitol in Washington. Wednesday. “It was about time too. And what we want to do is take solid and progressive steps in the trade.
Despite Johnson’s claims that the United States would lift the ban on British lamb, his Downing Street office later said the details still need to be worked out.
The United States has banned the import of British beef and lamb since 1989, due to BSE ((bovine spongiform encephalopathy), which is widely known as ‘mad cow disease’. ban on beef has already been lifted.
Phil Stocker, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, said farmers were thrilled with the announcement. He said the domestic lamb market accounts for between 60 and 65 percent of production, with the European Union, the EU being the largest export market.
“However, access is more difficult than it was when we were part of the EU,” Stocker said. “Maintaining access to the EU is essential, but it is also important to work in any market that offers us future potential. “
These modest, piecemeal trade deals fall far short of what Johnson and other Brexit supporters called for during the campaign for Britain to leave the EU in 2016. They argued that the one of the big prizes for getting out of the bloc would be a comprehensive trade deal. with the United States which would see tariffs and quotas eliminated on a wide range of products. Although the US alone is the UK’s largest trading partner, EU countries as a whole account for around half of UK trade in goods and services.
“The Biden administration is not making free trade deals around the world right now, but I have absolutely no doubts that there is a lot to be done,” Johnson said.
Unlike his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden has shown little interest in negotiating a trade deal with Britain, in part because of his concerns over Northern Ireland.
Ahead of his talks with Johnson at the White House on Tuesday, Biden raised concerns over Northern Ireland, following recent talks that the UK government wants to renegotiate the post-Brexit deal with the EU that he signed at the end of last year.
Biden said he felt “very strongly” about the issues surrounding the Northern Ireland peace process. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol to Brexit, customs and border controls have been imposed on certain goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK to prevent a physical border from being cut off. new established between Ireland, which is part of the 27- EU countries and Northern Ireland. This angered the Unionist community in Northern Ireland, who say the controls amount to a border in the Irish Sea and weaken Northern Ireland’s ties with the rest of the UK.
One of the important achievements of the Northern Ireland peace process has been its almost invisible border with Ireland.
“I would not at all like to see, and I might add, many of my fellow Republicans would like to see, a change in the Irish agreements, the end result having a closed border in Ireland,” said Biden, who is still proud of its Irish roots.
Since Britain officially left the EU’s economic structures earlier this year, the country has sought to shift its trade profile away from Europe. He is pushing to join the 11-country Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is home to around half a billion people in and around the Pacific.
There is even talk that Britain is considering joining the trade partnership between the United States, Canada and Mexico.