Pres­i­dent Trump prom­ises May un­in­ter­rupted trade af­ter Brexit

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Robert Hut­ton

PRES­I­DENT Don­ald Trump promised Theresa May that the UK will be able to con­tinue to trade with the US on the same terms it does now when it leaves the EU, ac­cord­ing to the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice.

The of­fer, made over lunch on Fri­day at the White House af­ter their joint news con­fer­ence, is de­signed to of­fer busi­nesses cer­tainty as they pre­pare for Brexit.

The lead­ers also agreed to be­gin work on a trade ne­go­ti­a­tion agree­ment, pre­par­ing the ground for a deal once Bri­tain is al­lowed to make its own ar­range­ments – some­thing it can­not do while still a mem­ber of the EU.

The US is Bri­tain’s big­gest na­tional trad­ing part­ner.

In the mean­time, var­i­ous mea­sures are be­ing con­sid­ered, in­clud­ing mu­tual recog­ni­tion of qual­i­fi­ca­tions, re­moval of mobile-phone roam­ing charges, and elim­i­na­tion of blocks on the trade of some agri­cul­tural goods, ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial who asked not to be iden­ti­fied be­fore a for­mal an­nounce­ment.

“This is the first step lead­ing to a fu­ture trade deal with the US, which could pro­vide huge ben­e­fits to our eco­nomic mus­cle and will give busi­nesses ad­di­tional cer­tainty and con­fi­dence,” May said.

The US re­ceives £47.3 bil­lion (R797bn) of UK goods a year, ex­ceed­ing Bri­tain’s next largest part­ner, Ger­many, by al­most £17bn, ac­cord­ing to a UK gov­ern­ment re­port.

The US and UK will es­tab­lish joint work­ing groups to scope out what can be achieved be­fore Brexit.

The idea of the ne­go­ti­a­tion agree­ment, ac­cord­ing to May’s of­fice, is to re­solve out­stand­ing ques­tions about what could be cov­ered in a free- trade agree­ment.

May’s of­fice said that the con­ver­sa­tion over lunch had fo­cused on the Brexit vote, which Trump told May was go­ing to be won­der­ful for Bri­tain.

They also dis­cussed at length the re­la­tion­ship be­tween their re­spec­tive coun­tries’ 1980s lead­ers Ron­ald Rea­gan and Mar­garet Thatcher.

At the end of the lunch, ac­cord­ing to May’s of­fice, Trump told the UK pre­mier that he liked to keep menu cards as sou­venirs.

The US pres­i­dent then handed that day’s card to a mem­ber of staff with in­struc­tions to keep it safe, in mem­ory of the time that he had lunch with the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter.

The US re­ceives £47.3bn of UK goods a year, ex­ceed­ing Bri­tain’s next largest part­ner, Ger­many.

FILE PHOTO: AP

UK Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May.

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