The UK is under pressure to adopt a more aggressive posture towards the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign in exchange for better trade deals with the US in post-Brexit negotiations between the two countries.
Details of the post-Brexit trade negotiations-which suggest Britain is unlikely to get softer treatment than other US allies-were released last week in an 18-page document by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), led by Robert Lighthizer. Listed amongst the “negotiating objectives” of the Trump administration is a demand for the UK to take a more hostile stance towards BDS.
With respect to commercial partnership between the two countries, USTR said it wanted to “discourage actions that directly or indirectly prejudice or otherwise discourage commercial activity solely between the United States and Israel.” BDS was identified as a major threat by the US trade representative who called to “discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel.”
Furthermore the US is seeking “the elimination of politically motivated nontariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on Israel; and the elimination of state-sponsored unsanctioned foreign boycotts of Israel, or compliance with the Arab League Boycott of Israel.”
The US is seeking “comprehensive market access for US agricultural goods in the UK” through the reduction or elimination of tariffs, a request that is said to have already soured Washington’s trade relations with the EU.
Senior Brexiters within the Conservative party have supported their campaign to leave the EU by insisting that Britain would be in a more favourable position to strike deals with the US and the rest of the world. Critics dismiss the claim saying that the UK would be left weak, alone and vulnerable to the dictates of much larger economies such as the US and China.
The UK is a significantly weaker partner and it’s hard to see how it can resist the US demand to take a tougher line with regards to BDS now that Washington has included it as part of its negotiating position.
With the Conservative party looking towards the US to save the UK from the negative impact of Brexit, Washington will be pushing at an open door and is likely to see Prime Minister Theresa May as easy picking in securing favourable trade that forces the UK to concede on virtually every position.