Brexit supporters have said rapidly agreed trade accords with the United States and other countries will make a prosperous “Global Britain” outside the European Union.
Both Britain and the United States would need to determine the scope of negotiations, but past experience of Washington’s dealings with other would-be trade partners shows what it is likely to seek and the limits on what it would offer.
BRITAIN’S NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE (NHS)
The U.S. ambassador’s comment that Britain’s NHS should be “on the table” in a trade deal caused an uproar in Britain.
There are two areas of U.S. interest. First, it would want its companies be allowed to bid for NHS contracts, although tenders are generally open already.
The second area concerns the reference prices the NHS sets for its purchases of drugs.
The United States, which sought to challenge a similar scheme in Australia during trade negotiations, argues that lower set prices are unfair on its pharmaceutical companies and leave U.S. consumers footing the bill.
Spending on the NHS totalled 144.3 billion pounds ($183.0 billion) in 2016/17, according to an April 2018 parliamentary briefing paper. OECD data shows that per capita expenditure on health in the UK was $4,246 in 2017 compared to an OECD average of $3,992 and $10,209 in the United States.
Washington is a net exporter of farm products, notably of meat and animal feed, but normally also wants its counterpart to accept its farming standards.