US ambassador: 'Suppliers want fair access to NHS Wales'

Ambassador Woody Johnson
Image caption Woody Johnson was speaking during a visit to the National Assembly

President Donald Trump would want US suppliers to have access to "a fair and balanced marketplace" in NHS Wales as part of any trade deal, the US Ambassador to the UK has said.

Woody Johnson said US products were used in the NHS and trade in these products should be part of any deal.

But he said running the NHS would not be on the negotiating table.

The Welsh Government has previously said it would not allow NHS Wales to form part of a US-UK trade deal.

"The NHS is a sacred entity in this country. What the president wants is to be part of the thousand or more companies that provide the NHS with soaps and disinfectants and surgical instruments, and all those things," Mr Johnson told BBC Wales.

Mr Johnson, who was visiting the National Assembly, also said the abolition of tariffs would benefit farmers and consumers in Wales.

Producers here needed to focus on distinctive products, like Welsh lamb, he added.

He said the US had good products to supply into Welsh markets, giving consumers more choice, and concerns about US animal welfare standards were a "mythical argument".

"We have very high standards," he said.

The UK government has said it will not lower food standards to reach an agreement.

The US is the second biggest export market for Welsh goods after the EU.

The Ambassador added: "I think you can overcome concerns [about the Free Trade Agreement]... you have to look a little bit on the bright side... If you have confidence in the people and confidence in what the country stands for and the culture, you're going to succeed, no question."

Mr Johnson has been the chairman and CEO of private asset management firm The Johnson Company in New York for more than 30 years; and since 2000 he has been the chairman and CEO of the New York Jets football team and New York Jets Foundation.

His great grandfather, Robert Wood Johnson I, was one of the founders of pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson.

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