Obama quashes prospect of fast-track Brexit deal

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business -

UNITED States Pres­i­dent Barack Obama of­fered Bri­tain lit­tle hope of a fast-track post-Brexit trade deal yes­ter­day, but said he would work to en­sure the eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two does not un­ravel af­ter the Bri­tish vote to leave the Euro­pean Union.

Obama met Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May at the start of a G20 sum­mit in China as Bri­tain em­barks on the long process of rein­vent­ing it­self as an in­de­pen­dent trad­ing na­tion fol­low­ing the shock June EU ref­er­en­dum out­come.

Obama, who in April used a visit to Lon­don to tell Bri­tain it would be at the back of the queue for a trade deal if it left the EU, met with May for the first time since she be­came prime min­is­ter to dis­cuss Brexit and other global chal­lenges.

He of­fered May re­as­sur­ance that Bri­tain’s clos­est po­lit­i­cal, com­mer­cial and mil­i­tary ally would stand by her, but did not shrink away from his stance that Brexit was a mis­take and that Lon­don would not be able to jump the queue to ar­range a bi­lat­eral deal.

“It is ab­so­lutely true that I be­lieved pre-Brexit vote, and con­tin­ued to be­lieve post-Brexit vote, that the world ben­e­fited enor­mously from the United King­dom’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the EU,” he said.

“First things first — the first task (for Bri­tain) is go­ing to be fig­ur­ing out what Brexit means with re­spect to Europe, and our first task is mak­ing sure we get, first, TPP (Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship) done and also that we move for­ward on the TTIP (Transat­lantic Trade and In­vest­ment Part­ner­ship) ne­go­ti­a­tions in which we’ve in­vested a lot of time and ef­fort.”

TTIP is a stalled US-EU trade deal, while TPP is Obama’s sig­na­ture Asian trade deal.

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull, mean­while, said yes­ter­day his coun­try and Bri­tain were both very com­mit­ted to hav­ing an early free trade agree­ment af­ter Bri­tain leaves the Euro­pean Union.

“They’ve got to put in place free trade agree­ments and we are en­thu­si­as­tic and sup­port­ive; we’re pro­vid­ing Bri­tain with as much as­sis­tance as we can at a tech­ni­cal level,” Turn­bull told re­porters in Hangzhou.

Both Obama and May said they would try to min­imise the im­pact of Brexit, stressed the close­ness of their re­la­tions and ex­pressed a de­sire to strengthen those ties wher­ever pos­si­ble.

“What I com­mit­ted to Theresa is that we will con­sult closely with her as she and her gov­ern­ment move for­ward with Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions to en­sure that we don’t see ad­verse ef­fects in the trade and com­mer­cial re­la­tion­ship be­tween the United States and the United King­dom,” Obama said.

“We’re go­ing to do every­thing we can to make sure that the con­se­quences of the de­ci­sion don’t end up un­rav­el­ling what is al­ready a very strong and ro­bust eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship,” he said. — Reuters

Barack Obama

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