Food trade: The EU and the US on Brexit

At last Brexit – the Britons mandate to leave EU from the referendum of 2016 – it seems it is not only an interest of British people and an outcome of using democratic right but it has also been a big game plan of international trade. Acoording to the JRF’s research report ‘low skills and lack of opportunities’ and austerity push the UK to Brexit. When Brexiting, a serious concern is whether the smooth supply and expected quality of food, medicine and other essentials are maintained. Because UK depends hugely on import especially on food security. The UK want to be a safe in importing the goods and services.

However, the UK has been struggling to take a decision in the parliament on deal or no deal Brexit. The members of parliament are divided badly on soft Brexit with deal with the EU and vice versa. Due to what the Parliament was unable to get majority in either way even several indicative voting as well. In the meantime, son of US president Donald Trump Jr wrote an article by berating British politicians unable to leave the EU without deal. For this, the Guardian referred an article publish on the Telegraph which was written by Trump Junior. According to him May (British Prime Minister) should have listened to his father’s advice over Brexit. Trump advised her to “sue the EU – not go into negotiations”.  Before that outgoing President Barack Obama suggested British people not to leave the EU when the country was preparing the voting. He threatened that “Brexit would put UK ‘back of the queue’ for trade talks” with the US. The question here is an attitude of external influence in the internal affairs and inconsistant opinion of the differnt US leader on Brexit. Furthermore, a big question to be asked is that does such ‘trend of influence’ is the principle of democracy, which we love too much! Indeed, UK deserve to receive a sincere help from its allies.      

It will be difficult or even terrible supplying UK’s food to the EU market after Brexit, if US food stuffs enter the UK’s market in the same conditions as they enter the US market.

Both the US president’s son Donald Trump Junior and US national security adviser John Bolton attacked British political leadership. The interest behind expressing such comments is that the Trump administration want “a resolution of this issue that allows the United States and Britain to come to trade deals again. He sees huge opportunity if Britain’s status can be resolved.” The incumbent US president was supportive of the UK leaving the EU without a deal and May’s delayed is good for the EU but “could prevent the UK from pursuing closer trade ties with the US.” 

O’Carroll, (2019) has mentioned in the Guardian and Lang, (2018) wrote a report on behalf of Food Research Collaborations (FRC) and recommended that to “Create a new Sustainable Food Security Strategy” and “Avoid a hard Food Brexit at all costs”. They have been recognised several problematic features of US food production practices and standards than the food quality followed by the EU and the UK. According to them, for example 

According to Lang, (2018) 

  • The Chlorine-washed chicken is in use in the US but chlorinated water is not permitted in the EU for poultry except leafy vegetables and horticultural products (O’Carroll, 2019)
  • Pesticides are sprayed more frequently and widely in US agriculture than in the UK and EU.
  • The animal welfare in US are significantly lower than the EU, (UK standards are in some respects stricter than those in other EU countries.
  • It is unlawful to administer a drug called ractopamine to pigs in the EU but it is very familiar in the US. Ractopamine develop more muscle tissue and less fat which is more profitable but less safe. 
  • The US food labelling information is far less than in the EU.
  • A wider range of food additives, for example potassium bromate and azodicarbonamide are authorised in US bread-making (dough improvers) but almost unacceptable in the EU.   

It will be difficult or even terrible supplying UK’s food to the EU market after Brexit, if US food stuffs enter the UK’s market in the same conditions as they enter the US market. However, according to the aforementioned authors, the US is seeking “comprehensive market access” in the UK. Also, looking ahead to remove “unwarranted barriers”. The US has long considered EU rules on food a barrier to trade. After no-deal Brexit, the banned food or related items could easily seep (in and out) through the Irish open border. O’Carroll mentioned a saying of an Eurosceptic Conservative MP,  the outline objectives was a “positive first step” to a deal with the US which would be “good for UK consumers as it would open markets to greater competition” and “it is encouraging”. Obiviously, the EU does not want to loose the UK’s market too.

So, it is worth remembering the words of Paul Collier, the global governance is “aid, trade, security and governance” in his bestsellers the Bottom Billionaire. If so, it is hard to find the democracy within the global governance of four words. I think, democracy is being used to fulfil the vested interest. Democracy is not safe from the so-called democrats and democracy are swallowed by the democrats. Indeed, democracy should be allowed to work itself but not obstruct directly in line with self-judgement and self-interest. Notwithstanding, it is very difficult to the UK either way of Brexit or remain the EU.     


Lang, T., Lewis, T., Marsden, T. and Millstone, E., 2018. Feeding Britain: food security after Brexit. Feeding Britain: Food Security after Brexit  

O’Carroll, L., 2019. Concern over food safety as US seeks greater access to UK markets, The Guardian   

Rawlinson, K,. 2019. Donald Trump Jr and John Bolton berate UK leaders over Brexit, The Guardian

Anushka Asthana 2016. Barack Obama: Brexit would put UK ‘back of the queue’ for trade talks

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