Labour calls itself 'powerful allies' of Biden's Democrats on trade deals, workers rights and energy

Tue 8 Aug 2023
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

Labour party logo

Joe Biden’s Democratic Party and that this would enable it to make the UK “powerful allies” with the US on various priorities, including “signing trade agreements”.

Nicholas Thomas-Symonds travelled to Washington in July and met with US trade representative Katharine Tai to begin talks on a potential UK-US digital trade agreement.

‘Powerful allies’

“We share the Biden administration’s worker-centric trade policy,” he told the Guardian this week.

“The Biden administration will have a strong ally in a Labour government. I think it would be great to have those shared priorities across the Atlantic, whether on workers’ rights, consumer protections, environmental protections [or] the ‘jobs first’ agenda.

“Together the two could be really powerful allies for those priorities across the world, especially when it comes to signing trade agreements.”

Labour’s shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, has also recently sought to align her so-called “securenomics” with the “Bidenomics” of the current US administration.

Atlantic Declaration

The current Conservative administration in the UK has also been keen to push for a closer trade relationship with the US.

The government has secured a series of deals with US states including Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Utah, while it is also “actively engaging” with Texas, California, Colorado and Florida.

On a nationwide level, Biden has downplayed the possibility of striking a bilateral free trade agreement with the UK, but he did agree the Atlantic Declaration deal with prime minister Rishi Sunak in June, which focused on closer partnership on advanced technologies, clean energy and critical minerals.

However, Thomas-Symonds has called the agreement “paper thin”, Politico reports.

A Department for Business and Trade spokesman told the Guardian that the government is continuing to succeed in securing trade agreements with some of the “world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies, and recently became the first new country to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership”.

Dividing lines

Ahead of a likely general election in the UK next year, the Labour Party has also been claiming that it would seek to improve UK trade by seeking a closer relationship with the EU.

“If you do not think Britain’s relationship with Europe is of fundamental importance to our future, you are living in a fantasy,” said shadow foreign secretary David Lammy at a conference in June.

Although party leader Sir Keir Starmer has said there would be “no going back” to the EU or single market under Labour, he has signaled that he would look to “fix” aspects of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The party also told the BBC that it would negotiate a new veterinary agreement with Brussels to reduce the need for import controls on EU agrifood products entering Britain. This followed the reports that the government is going to postpone sanitary and phytosanitary checks being bought in under the Border Target Operating Model.

Net zero debate

Starmer also wrote in the Sunday Times this week that he would approach the transition to net zero “in a pragmatic, hard-headed way, driven by what is best for Britain’s working people”.

He said his party would follow the “lesson” of the Biden administration in “getting on with investment into new industries of the future and reaping the benefits in jobs, economic growth and lower inflation”.

He accused the Conservatives of introducing climate policies designed to “divide the electorate rather than deliver for Britain”. Starmer cited the government’s ban on onshore wind and ongoing debate within the Cabinet over the current government policy for all cars to be electric or hybrid by 2030.

Bloomberg reports that Starmer has told the automotive industry that he would hold firm on this government pledge, if the Labour Party is elected to power next year.