The U.S. and the U.K. still have a lot of negotiating ahead of them, but the British will likely agree to a free trade agreement that allows for increased trade in beef, pork and poultry, says Gregg Doud, the U.S. Trade Representative’s top agriculture negotiator.

“My first point I would like to make is that the U.K. is not the EU,” Doud said at the Ag Outlook Forum hosted in Kansas City Monday by Agri-Pulse and The Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City. “I don’t believe that the U.K.’s mindset on this is the same as the European mindset. I fundamentally believe that that’s the reason they want to extract themselves out of the E.U. They want to get away from this protectionist, precautionary mindset in the use of technology in agriculture.”

USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky, who also spoke at the event, said he too is predicting success for ag talks in the U.S.-U.K. FTA.

“We just finished our fourth round of negotiations with the U.K. and I’m still optimistic about getting an agreement and addressing some of our long-standing barriers that we’ve had there,” Censky said.

While it is true that the British are breaking away from EU, there has still been plenty of British opposition to lifting bans on ractopamine and growth hormones that block most U.S. pork and beef from being sold there. There have also been loud cries by British consumers and politicians to continue to ban U.S. poultry that has been treated with antimicrobial rinses to prevent salmonella contamination.

USTR Robert Lighthizer predicted during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing earlier this year that agricultural negotiations with the U.K. will be difficult, but the U.S. will not back down.

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“We will have agricultural problems in negotiations, I can guarantee you. I’m hopeful that we’ll work our way through them,” Lighthizer said at the June hearing, “but on areas of American agriculture, this administration is not going to compromise. We either have fair access for agriculture or we won’t have a deal with (the U.K. or the EU).”

And a deal that opens up ag trade could be very lucrative for U.S. producers, Doud said.

“In terms of beef, pork and poultry, the U.K. imports $4.5 billion worth of those products from the EU,” he said. “I’d kind of like to have a shot at some of that. And if we can get things right, I think we will have a fair shot at that.”

The successful completion of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement with overwhelming support in the Senate and House strengthens the U.S. hand in talks with the U.K., Doud said Monday.

When British officials suggest veering from what Doud calls the “USMCA template” that enforces virtually tariff-free ag trade, they’re told the U.S. Congress won’t pass it.

“This is the template going forward in agricultural trade,” Doud said about USMCA. “If you’re going to deviate from that, how are you going to get it passed (by Congress)?”

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