Fi­nance, farm­ing are fo­cus of UK-US trade talks, says Fox

Muscat Daily - - BUSINESS -

Lon­don, UK - Re­mov­ing com­mer­cial bar­ri­ers with the US could gen­er­ate an ad­di­tional £40bn in trade with the UK by 2030, Bri­tain’s Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox said on Sun­day as he warned that reach­ing a deal won’t be easy.

Fox, in Wash­ing­ton for pre­lim­i­nary talks on a post-Brexit US trade agree­ment, said the pro­jected eco­nomic gain is based on re­cent gov­ern­ment cal­cu­la­tions. Economists and trade spe­cial­ists say any deal will be hard to de- liver, since the Amer­i­cans have more ex­pe­ri­ence and could bull­doze the UK on is­sues such as agri­cul­tural and fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tion.

“It will be a dif­fi­cult dis­cus­sion, but we’ve got great sup­port from the United States and the ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Fox said on the BBC’s An­drew Marr Show on Sun­day. “Agriculture’s al­ways a very dif­fi­cult is­sue” but “we’ll want to look at a whole range of other things, on fi­nan­cial ser­vices for ex­am­ple, and other parts of the ser­vice econ­omy,” he said.

The UK is al­ready view­ing a pact as a way for Lon­don-based banks to se­cure easy ac­cess to Wall Street, which might re­quire the UK to ac­cept weaker rules on fi­nan­cial ser­vices less than a decade af­ter global fi­nan­cial mar­kets col­lapsed. The US also could de­mand looser san­i­tary rules on food, such as al­low­ing hor­mone-treated beef to be sold in Bri­tain.

Many busi­nesses have urged the gov­ern­ment to set a transi- tion pe­riod to any new re­la­tion­ship once the al­lot­ted time for exit talks is com­pleted in March 2019.

“I don’t think that there’s any great ide­o­log­i­cal block­age on the con­cept of a tran­si­tion or an im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod,” Fox said, back­ing away from a po­si­tion he took two weeks ago. It could be as long as 23 or 25 months, he said, and the UK should be al­lowed to ne­go­ti­ate new trade deals dur­ing that time.

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