Groundwork for US-UK trade deal
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.
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.
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.