UK-US Trade deal correspondence: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

Communications and meetings with the UK Government regarding a US-UK trade deal, specifically the effects of a trade deal on the NHS and wider health and social care sector.


I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested, as follows:

  • Letter to Greg Hands MP on USA Free Trade Agreement Negotiations
  • Email containing notes of a call between Ivan McKee MSP and Greg Hands MP on 5th May.

Some of the information you have requested is available from the website, as follows:

  • On 21 February 2020, Mr McKee (Minister for International Trade, Investment and Innovation) issued a press release warning against a trade agreement with the USA that lowered standards, and included ‘protecting our pubic services’ as a key concern.    

On Monday 2nd March, the UK Government published their ‘approach to trade negotiations with the US’. Scottish Government responded to the UK Government publication with a news release on Monday 2nd March titled ‘Reckless Approach to US Trade Talks’, again identifying ‘protecting our public services’ as a key concern.

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.
Our aim is to provide information whenever possible. However, in this instance, some the information you have requested is not held by the Scottish Government for the purposes of FOISA because we received it in confidence from the UK Government. This means that, under the terms of section 3(2)(a) (ii) of FOISA, we are unable to disclose it in response to your request.

An exemption under section 38 (1)(b) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. This exemption applies to data that it is considered to be the personal data. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’. Where the content of a document is considered personal data, this information has been redacted.

An exemption under section 29(1)(a)(i) (formulation of Scottish Administration policy) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because some of the information relates to the formulation or development of government policy, specifically in advice to ministers. 

An exemption under section 32(1)(a) of the FOISA (international relations) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially relations between the United Kingdom and another State. Please note the UK Government publication ‘Exchanging information during UK-US trade agreement negotiations’ which contains an exchange of letters between the UK Government and United States Trade Representative. 

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption.

We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. Any information or correspondence which may give detail of the UK Government’s negotiating position in a UK-US free trade agreement or formulation of Scottish Government policy in this area has therefore been excluded.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FoI-202000061715 - Information released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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