Ground­work for US-UK trade deal

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Jen­nifer Ja­cobs and Mar­garet Talev Andrew Marr Show

THE TRUMP ad­min­is­tra­tion will lay the ground­work this week for a trade deal be­tween the US and the UK that would take ef­fect af­ter Bri­tain leaves the EU, a White House aide said, as Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May be­comes the first for­eign leader to visit the new pres­i­dent.

May last week de­clared Bri­tain is “open for busi­ness” as she an­nounced plans to pur­sue a clean break with the EU, paving the way for the UK to even­tu­ally strike new trade ac­cords with the con­ti­nent and other coun­tries. May said she will travel to Wash­ing­ton and speak to the US pres­i­dent on Fri­day.

“We will have an op­por­tu­nity to talk about our pos­si­ble fu­ture trad­ing re­la­tion­ship, but also some of the world’s chal­lenges that we all face – is­sues like de­feat­ing ter­ror­ism, the con­flict in Syria,” and Nato, May said in an in­ter­view on the BBC’s yes­ter­day. “When I sit down with Don­ald Trump, I am go­ing to be talk­ing about how we can build on that spe­cial re­la­tion­ship.”

Trump of­fi­cials be­lieve their dis­cus­sions with May’s gov­ern­ment en­cour­aged her to be more ag­gres­sive in ex­it­ing the EU.

Ten­sions

She can use any Amer­i­can sup­port to ar­gue the UK will pros­per out­side the bloc, although she risks in­flam­ing ten­sions with Euro­pean lead­ers if they sus­pect her gov­ern­ment is ac­tively ne­go­ti­at­ing trade deals while still an EU mem­ber.

Two of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s se­nior ad­vis­ers, Steve Ban­non and son-in-law Jared Kush­ner, met with UK For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son in New York on Jan­uary 8. The three are pre­par­ing for the fu­ture pact, the aide said, re­quest­ing anonymity be­cause the dis­cus­sions are not public.

Ban­non, Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser Michael Flynn, and other ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials have also met with Bri­tish de­fence and in­tel­li­gence lead­ers, the aide said. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama warned in April that if the UK pur­sued Brexit, the coun­try would go to the “back of the queue” for US trade deals. UK vot­ers chose to leave the EU any­way in a June ref­er­en­dum, and Trump now ap­pears to be scrap­ping Obama’s po­si­tion on the mat­ter.

Trump’s team is also con­sid­er­ing a deal to re­duce bar­ri­ers be­tween US and Bri­tish banks, the Sun­day Tele­graph re­ported.

Trump has tapped Woody John­son, the bil­lion­aire owner of the New York Jets NFL team, to serve as US am­bas­sador to the UK, a per­son fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said on Jan­uary 19. May and Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto will make vis­its to the US this month to meet with Trump, ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said.

May will meet with Trump on Fri­day, White House deputy press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee said on Satur­day. Peña Ni­eto will meet with Trump on Jan­uary 31, said press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer.

Nei­ther pro­vided fur­ther de­tails on the meet­ings. Trade, im­mi­gra­tion and Trump’s cam­paign prom­ise to build a wall on the south­ern US border loom large in the pres­i­dent’s re­la­tions with Mex­ico.

Brexit, the cam­paign against Is­lamic State ter­ror­ism, the Syr­ian civil war and sanc­tions against Rus­sia are key is­sues in re­la­tions be­tween the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and Bri­tain.

PHOTO: AP

Pro­test­ers hold signs of “No!” as they lis­ten to speak­ers at an anti-Trump rally hosted by film­maker Michael Moore in front of the Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel, last Thurs­day, in New York. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump will meet the UK’s Theresa May on Fri­day.

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