City Law School academics explore possibilities regarding post-Brexit trade and EU-US relations in a Joe Biden presidency
Academics from The City Law School have commented on the possible next steps America's president-elect Joe Biden will take with regard to post-Brexit trade and EU-US relations.
Professor of International Economic Law, Professor David Collins, believes that Biden may follow the approach of President Barack Obama and de-emphasize UK-US relations for the time being.
Digital services tax
He says that though the ‘fast track’ presidential authority to conclude trade agreements terminates on July 1st 2021 - leaving a short window for the incoming president to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) without involving Congress - it is doubtful whether he will pursue a UK FTA so soon after taking office in January 2021:
“It is unlikely that the President-elect will have a trade team in place until February. Joe Biden will not agree to an FTA with the UK unless it is in America’s interests, which primarily involves zero tariffs on agriculture. It’s worth noting that Biden is likely to support a digital services tax which the UK has implemented. Biden may also seek to reform the World Trade Organisation (WTO) more assertively than his predecessor. While this should help the UK, it is unclear at this point, because he has not yet articulated a policy on this front”.
Professor Collins says Joe Biden will almost certainly raise taxes and impose expensive green policies in the US which are likely to harm its economy. This, he thinks, will not be in the UK’s interests, as a weakened US is bad for global commerce.
Overall, Professor Collins is of the view that the recent US presidential election will probably have limited impact on Brexit as this remains a UK-EU issue.
Jean Monnet Chair of Law & Transatlantic Relations, Professor Elaine Fahey, says Joe Biden will have to confront the reality of a "recalibrated post-Brexit Europe which has united the continent more effectively than in many instances of foreign relations”.
She says that against the background of a Trump presidency "which has marked a low in the 60-year history of EU-US relations with the diplomatic downgrading of the EU", the Biden administration will need to consider the place of Europe as an ally and the longevity of the America First approach to trade, tariffs and tech wars.
In her view, the EU is presently at a significant juncture, developing key trade enforcement powers and developing significant policies on digital sovereignty and the regulation of data spaces:
The tech sector in the US is under increasing scrutiny from US lawmakers and cooperation with Europe could prove a highly effective alliance going forward. The next administration will be facing a recalibrated post-Brexit Europe which has united Europe more effectively than in many instances of foreign relations. The transatlantic relationship going forward will be an important touchstone for the development of the post-Brexit Europe and its capacity to evolve deeper trade relations with the US, better data flow regimes and the protection of rights in a transnational context.