Trading with Trump
US-UK Trade Deal
Donald J.Trump drinks a dozen diet cokes a day. What better image of US food policy! 'Fat Coke please' explains how 'diet drinks' put on weight. The sweeteners replace ordinary sugars with worse sugars (more below), that encourage us to eat more.He has a Body Mass Index of 29.5. Healthy' is considered 18- 25, so he is overweight and just short of being 'obese' = 30.
This is a fabulous metaphor for US foreign food policy - 'Diet' sounds good, but you/we end up consuming more food. The US want and need to 'dump' food and have been frustrated with EU blocking their food exports for years. The UK is now an obvious target.
The Telegraph: Concerns over chlorine-washed chicken could delay US trade deal, says Michael Gove. Media is 'obsessed' with chlorine washed chicken says Liam Fox. We will hear a lot about 'chlorinated chickens', 'hormone beef', and old favourite 'GM corn'; but also check out ractopamine pig. Ractopamine to produce leaner pork is another substance banned in EU but used in USA - where it escapes the USDA organic certificate, as it neither a growth hormone nor an antibiotic.
These all reflect aspects of the bigger issue - the US 'efficiency' of food production. History shows that the more food produced means lower farmgate prices. A 'good' harvest produces less money - apples are left on the ground to rot. To make up for this tendency, food has to be produced 'more efficiently'. The USA have been overproducing since the last world war, so they have driven 'efficiency' more.
We in the UK produce only half the food we eat, so are a target for US food exports. EU subsidies have protected farm and food producers. The US will challenge the science of any of our 'ban's' (properly called sanitary measures) - they are allowed to under WTO rules. Where the US may have 'lost' various challenges versus the EU, we are in a weaker position. Trump established a task force early on to promote US agriculture including its exports. They want to remove agricultural trade barriers with EU - which they consider are not 'science-based'. See Bittersweet Brexit Sect 3 on 'Science' for details of possible debates around chemicals, additives, GMOs and other practices. The US will try to impose their standards in any US-UK deal, as this is how they produce what they do profitably. It is not just meat we need to look out for, as the US will want to export all of the food products they overproduce, particularly grain and corn.
Many here are concerned that any US-UK deal will involve weakening of many animal welfare and food safety standards, like the chickens and beef. However some are also concerned about pesticides. In Dec 2017, the EFRA Select Committee challenged Gove & Eustace (12.00 - 04) on effects of a US deal, in terms of lower standards regarding pesticides, in particular whether we could check for residues of say neonicotinoids, Eustace pointed to the Pesticide Residues in Food Committee's good work. Neonics in food residues are controlled by Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) set by the international UN body called CODEX. But there is no law here to ban Neonics - yet! But clearly could be big debate, and glyphosate will get a mention too.
Increase food safety risks by 10X according to Sustain "The US Centre of Disease Control and Prevention reports around 380 deaths in the US each year attributed to foodborne salmonella poisoning. The most recent epidemiological lab data from Public Health England shows no deaths in England and Wales from salmonella between 2005 and 2015. Salmonella food poisoning is most commonly caused by consumption of contaminated food of animal origin, such as beef, chicken, milk, fish or eggs." That is why we have a system that eliminates salmonella in the chicken flock, whereas the US rely on killing off the stuff -'chlorinating chicken'. In the end we prefer prevention rather than curing contamination.
It is not just standards (Sanitary Measures) that are part of Single Market, but also the tariffs (Customs Union) which are most important. If we reduce or remove the tariffs we had as a part of EU, more US food will come in. There will be strong forces at work to drop tariffs on US food imports - so we can flog them our financial services, white goods - and NHS.
A 'shadow' US-UK Trade talk and an Ideal FTA was published by the Initiative for Free Trade (IFT), who launched in Sept 2017 at Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Their US-UK Ideal FTA spells out "There are big potential savings for UK consumers when it comes to agricultural produce. Thanks to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, its common external tariff and quota regimes, and its use of the precautionary principle to ban non-EU products from the market, British consumers have for decades suffered higher food prices and more limited choice. US exporters of agricultural produce - beef, for instance - would have a brand new market to sell to, and British consumers a cheaper alternative to the current options." Unearthed of Greenpeace say:" These plans will absolutely throw agriculture under the bus. The bus with £350m on the side". It says to me 'bugger our farmers and farmworkers'. We spend less than 10% of our earnings now on food - it is not like when the Corn Laws were repealed. 'suffrered?' The retailers tell us all the time about how much choice we have. The IFT includes the Legatum Institute, which we saw in regards to getting rid of subsidies and tariffs like they did in New Zealand. The IFT have also produced the 'Left Wing Case for Free Trade'. Is that what Lexiteers wanted??
The most concern for me is all the sugars and sweeteners will wash over us and make us even more obese - already the most obese country in Europe. The Mediterranean diet will be replaced by bowls of cornflakes - coated in HFCS, and baked beans. HFCS is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and produced from corn (thanks to Butz - see below) It is is found as a sweetener in many foods - in the US. HFCS is called Isoglucose in EU, and was subject of most important case in development of the EU parliament when it put a 600% tariff on it. See book for the story. Isoglucose (ie HFCS) is worse for us than our normal sugar - sucrose. See Lustig 'Bitter Truth'. Quotas limiting amount of it grown in the EU have been removed, so there is expected to be a rapid rise homegrown of Isoglucose production and consumption.
There are worries about putting on weight following US trade deal - same happened with Mexico. Some years ago, Cargill won claim over Mexican government for putting tax on HFCS. The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes issued a $77m award Ongoing row between Mexico and USA - who accuse Mexico of subsidising and dumping sugar. Coca cola need their sugar. US sugar producers want stricter rules on Mexican imports. If USA does retaliate, Mexico threatens the £18bn imports of US food, which includes 80% of their HFCS exports. Deal done with less refined Mexican sugar exported to USA. None of this is for health reasons - see BB book 'Favourite Foods :Sugar..
The tariffs on HFCS nothing to do with 'health', although fructose worse for us than 'sucrose' but because sugar manufacturers are threatened by HFCS - or 'Isoglucose' as EU calls it. Isoglucose case - possible the biggest in EU history.
Another sweetener replacing sugars in 'diet' drinks is aspartame, made from combining two chemicals, one which is L-phenylalanine made by fermenting - er molasses. Aspartame is being replaced / mixed with by sucralose. Sucralose is produced primarily Tate & Lyle, ardent Brexiteers - opposed to quotas & tariffs on their sugar cane imports.
US Foreign Food Policy
Remember Marshall Plan (Chapter 1 in Bittersweet Brexit p15) after WW2, when the US 'gave' a lot of food to Europe? Since then the US foreign policy has been based on 'giving' food for long term repayment to whoever is in need, whereas the rest of the world give 'aid' in terms of money.
Trump has reduced the farm subsidies, which comes as a surprise seeing how many mid-west farmers voted for him. US farm subsidies are different from EU in that they 'insure' farmers against unforeseen losses (weather and markets). The UK Agricultural Minister George Eustace proposes something similar for UK. It may be that Trump moves away from subsidies and encourages exporting excess. This is what happened in the 1970s when their Agricultural minister Earl Butz told corn farmers to 'grow row to row', meaning grow as much as you can. Butz took on to get rid of the excess corn/grain. He sold grain to Russia (Great Grain Robbery), replaced grass to feed cattle (intensive production - CAFOs), and produced of High Fructose Corn Syrup - the worst sweetener of all. Check out why Butz had to resign - that produced this amazing Cab Calloway spoof.
After the US met our EFRA Committee, our chair said : "We had an open and constructive conversation with Secretary Perdue, saying the domestic US market presents significant opportunities for the UK food and farming industry, and following Brexit the Government should focus on securing a great bilateral trade deal with our US partners...It really matters to UK farmers and consumers that agreement on Tariff Rate Quotas is reached quickly with World Trade Organisation countries - including the US." That would mean cheap food from abroad to undercut ours. This is the massive issue - Finance versus Farming. The 'City' will want to import more food cheaply - replaying the 'Repeal of the Corn Laws' over 150 years ago. We need to subsidise our 'Country 'areas for real long term future.
When Michael Gove spoke at Oxford Farming Conference in Jan 2018, he as accompanied by a US trade secretary Ted McKinney
Me, Trump & Trade Deal
I am invited to speak at the Global Justice Now event in Bradford (Artworks, The Delius Centre ) January 18, 7-8.30 entitled 'Trade with Trump' - around the possible US-UK Trade Deal.
openDemocracy included Bittersweet Brexit in their 'Best political books of 2017' - under 'Trump & Brexit', saying: "the first serious attempt to explore the #ToryBrexit consequences for farming, land and food inflation."