Lobbyists for the American meat industry have urged the US government to demand Britain drop antibiotics restrictions and the ban on ractopamine-fed pork as part of any post-Brexit trade deal.
Speaking at an evidence session in front of the powerful US Trade Policy Committee in Washington last month, the lobbyists also warned forcing the UK to accept chlorine-bleached chicken would require “hard negotiating”.
Craig Thorn, of America’s National Pork Producers Council, said Britain should drop its standards and stop testing pork for the parasitic worm trichinae.
Trade expert Daniel Griswold, meanwhile, told the Committee the President should aim for “the elimination of all tariffs on all categories of goods”.
The committee is amassing information on how to squeeze Theresa May for concessions once Britain has broken from the EU.
Thorn and Griswold, ex-president of the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones, were among an array of experts, industry representatives and lobbyists from the US and UK who had their say.
He was among a majority who told the committee to press UK negotiators for a zero-tariff agreement, which some in Britain fear risks hurting UK industry and destroying farming by flooding the market.
In words which will also worry manufacturing unions, Griswold said a new tariff regime should “politically sensitive sectors, like passenger vehicles”.
He also said UK should “free itself from the precautionary principle” which puts safety first when it comes to produce and machinery.
Griswold added: “You know, there are some very specific issues, hormone-treated beef, chlorine cleaned chicken, things like that, genetically modified organisms.
“There, the British public sensibilities may be, while they may be a little different than Continental Europe, they’re certainly somewhat different than the United States. And I think that is going to require some hard negotiating.”
He admitted that moves which exposed British farmers to US competition post-Brexit would also be “politically sensitive” some tariffs were “indefensibly high”.
He said: “And we need to, as soon as they’re outside the customs, you need to negotiate to get those down to zero as soon as possible.”
It came as Theresa May refused to rule out dramatically slashing tariffs after Britain leaves the EU.
She told the Commons: “On the issue of tariffs in the event of a no-deal, there are still discussions being undertaken with businesses and other sectors.”
Marjorie Chorlins, vice president for European Affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile urged the panel to push Britain to get rid of its planned digital services tax, the so-called ‘Amazon Tax’ on online giants proposed by Chancellor Philip Hammond.
She admitted “tax policy falls outside the scope of trade negotiations”, but added: “We urge US officials to leverage every opportunity to underscore the importance of national treatment and non-discrimination in the application of tax policies.”
Peter Allgeier, from the UK’s free market think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs called for “disciplines on state-owned enterprises”.
He said it was “essential that market-oriented economies such as the US and the UK assert themselves” in the face of “challenges and economic consequences”of China’s “model of industrial policy powered by state-owned and state-directed enterprises”.
The committee also heard from American unions, including Celeste Drake, of AFL-CIO.
She said the US-UK deal should not be used to “enact a corporate wish list of deregulation for banks, food safety, chemical safety, privacy, and public services, or new monopolies for brand name drug makers”.