Trade, Development, and Immigration

IEA responds to government plans for a UK-US Free Trade Agreement

Commenting on government plans for a UK-US Free Trade Agreement, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood said:

“Removing barriers to trade with the 93% of the world’s population who don’t live in the European Union is a vital task. A trade deal with the United States may well have considerably greater benefits than are imagined. The government will however need to continually tackle domestic vested interests who will seek to demand protectionism.”

Commenting on the estimated economic benefits of a Free Trade Agreement with the US, IEA Economics Fellow Julian Jessop said:

“The economic benefits that could arise from a US-UK free trade agreement are hard to quantify, especially over the long-term, but the estimates in this document appear low.

“Experience with previous FTAs shows a US-UK deal could improve UK GDP by far more than the predicted 0.2%.”

Commenting on the provisions for for digital trade, IEA Head of Regulatory Affairs Victoria Hewson said:

“This document contains positive steps forward on data and digital services but the government would be naive to think the US will make concessions in these areas, and on goods and services generally, while we persist with measures like the tech tax and online harms regulation that hit US service providers hardest.

“The proposed approach seeks to keep options open on issues like intellectual property rights and geographic indicators that will be of great interest to the EU, especially in light of what was already agreed on GIs in the Withdrawal Agreement.

“On technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary measures the approach could allow both sides’ objectives to be met, but it remains to be seen how the plan will fare when put into action alongside the negotiations with the EU.”

Commenting on plans to protect the National Health Service (NHS), IEA Economics Fellow Julian Jessop said: 

“Politicians are responding to public concerns by ring fencing the NHS, and the government is right to rule out the adoption of the US healthcare model, including on drugs pricing.

“However, the benefits of free trade apply just as much to the provision of goods and services to the NHS as they do to any other sector of the economy. US firms are already major suppliers to the NHS and access could be improved further.”


Notes to editors

For media enquiries please contact Emily Carver, Media Manager: 020 7799 8920 or 07715 942731.

For further IEA reading on Brexit and trade, click here.

For further IEA reading on digital services and online harms, click here.