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By Patrick Van Roy On January 24th, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged President Biden to strike a new trade deal with the UK in a phone call on Saturday, marking the first official discussion between the two world leaders since Biden was sworn in. 

Johnson “reiterated his intention to resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible” and discussed “the benefits of a potential free trade deal” with Biden, according to a statement from Downing Street reported by the Associated Press. 

18 Responses to “Boris”

  1. He should be concentrating more on further negotiations with the EU to mitigate the disastrous damage his December deal is doing for business and trade with our 500 million closest neighbours.

  2. It’s significant that the Downing Street report of the conversation mentioned that a trade deal was discussed and the White House report did not. This reflects the reality that a US-UK trade deal is low on Biden’s list of priorities whereas the British government is clearly desperate for one. Despite Tory promises to the contrary, be in no doubt that they will happily sacrifice a lot of UK farming and open up the NHS to American Big Pharma, if that’s what it takes to get a deal over the line.

  3. Any quickly agreed Trade deal with the US will be done only if it secures much greater advantage to American businesses than U.K. ones. The Americans will be in no hurry to agree it otherwise, whereas Boris will sign anything.

  4. Ultimately trade deals are not done quickly. The number of trade deals the UK has negotiated since Brexit have largely just been roll over deals to continue the measures that the EU negotiated on the UK’s behalf. New trade deals take years. So not only would I be surprised if the UK and the US agreed a deal soon I’d actually be surprised if it is agreed during the Biden presidency.

  5. The USA holds all the cards in this negotiation and any deal signed will be on their terms.

  6. The NHS already buys much from Pfizer and other big Pharma

    How would this change conceptually

  7. Not so much big Pharma. But a lot of trade deals have clauses that are designed to prevent market distortion by governments. So the US enters into a trade deal with a country. Most trade deals would then prevent the US subsidising those companies if doing so would hurt the producers in the second country.

    The US have so far insisted that similar language apply to healthcare in any UK/US trade deal. And US healthcare providers would be harmed by a government funded competitor in the UK.

  8. The issue with the NHS is the price paid for drugs. The US companies it does business with are forced to sell to it at much lower prices than they can get elsewhere, but because it is such an enormous customer it can force lower prices. Johnson has said that this will not be part of any trade deal negotiation, but Johnson is a proven liar.

  9. The NHS model is very established, and fairly universally supported in the UK ( ATW is wildly out of touch with British opinion ). No British government will seek to change that model in any fundamental way, and I seriously doubt that a Biden government would ever ask for the NHS to be changed in order to make US corporations happy.

    Private health care does exist in the UK now, I guess BUPA and UK private hospitals could face new competition but I still don’t get how the NHS model or British taxpayer support for it is endangered here.

  10. All foreign country systems pay way less for US drugs than US buyers pay

    That would be the case in France and Canada too, not just the UK

  11. I still don’t get how the NHS model or British taxpayer support for it is endangered here.

    The NHS drugs spend is so enormous that even a small increase in prices paid to US pharma companies would have disastrous consequences for its budget. But that’s precisely what those companies will be expecting as part of any trade deal.

  12. “Private health care does exist in the UK now, I guess BUPA and UK private hospitals could face new competition but I still don’t get how the NHS model or British taxpayer support for it is endangered here.”

    Because politically the UK government need a trade win. Their trade policy so far has made the UK poorer but putting trade barriers in place with the UK’s biggest provider and the UK’s biggest market. And the golden egg they are chasing is a trade deal with the US (something that is proving almost impossible for an EU/US agreement). It formed a lot of the rhetoric for the Brexiteers. So the UK will be willing to give up a lot to get that deal. And if the threat to the NHS is subtle and less obvious then it is possible they agree to it.

  13. I’d like to see how such an agreement for the UK to pay more for drugs would be worded

    A single payer has an exceptionally huge negotiating advantage as Peter says

    The big problem with the US government is that it doesn’t really negotiate on drug prices at all. Even Trump complained about that.

  14. Big Pharma has enormous lobbying power in the US and many politicians are in its pockets. This is bound to be reflected in the US negotiating position.

  15. Correct

    Private health insurers and other privates do negotiate lower drug prices from What is published in a hugely complex and opaque system. But the Federal government pays list price if I understand correctly

    I understand that Pfizer and Moderna and the others Will only sell their Covid drugs if the actual agreed prices in the contract are kept confidential. Which has been a problem in places like Ukraine that actually has contract transparency laws that can’t be honored if they are to get these needed medicines

  16. I think the hiccup comes from access to farm products from the US

    The UK has a big problem, its that they arent anybodies main trading partner so they don’t have leverage

  17. Trump was talking about fairly minor dairy tariffs by Canada?

    The US isn’t the most free trader in agriculture either

    The US has tariffs and quotas on sugar imports, which punishes poor countries, and which raises costs for US consumers

    The US also massively subsidizes production of corn, and other products which has harmed producers in Mexico who can’t compete with super cheap US imports

    The US position here was very shaky..


  18. I think Britain can get a good deal from Biden, in spite of the slight of once again removing the bust of Churchill. Obama had a built in hate for the British over it’s colonialism where Joe has no convictions.

    It will depend on who is actually doing the negotiations. As for example expect the ME to go to shit because that’s going to be all John Kerry as the point man.