President Donald Trump said the U.S. and the U.K. are working on a potentially “big and exciting” trade deal and the relationship between the two countries is going to be “even better” after Brexit.
Trump’s comments, made in tweets late on Monday and on Tuesday, came as U.K. Trade Secretary Liam Fox was in Washington to pave the way for a trade deal after Britain leaves the European Union. Trump said Fox’s meetings on Monday with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Vice President Mike Pence begin “a new chapter for stronger trade.”
Trump attacked the European Union’s attitude to trans-Atlantic trade and called for it to drop barriers to commerce. Once Britain leaves the bloc it will be free to negotiate its own trade deals with countries around the world, and Fox said 700,000 U.S. jobs are supported by trade with Britain.
“Working on major Trade Deal with the United Kingdom,” Trump wrote in a Tweet on Tuesday. “Could be very big & exciting. JOBS! The E.U. is very protectionist with the U.S. STOP!”
Fox told a reception in Washington Tuesday that the aim is to improve what is already “a vibrant and vital economic relationship.”
U.S.-U.K. ties represent “far more than a cuddly, emotional special relationship; it’s a hard-edged special relationship,” Fox said. “There is so much more we can do.”
Still, economists and trade specialists have warned any deal will be difficult to deliverbecause U.S. negotiators have more experience and could bulldoze the U.K. on issues such as agricultural and financial regulation. Moreover the two sides disagree overwhich country exports more to the other.
A report by the upper chamber of the U.K. Parliament, the House of Lords, published Tuesday, said British farmers risk losing out to cheaper, imported food after leaving the EU if ministers don’t retain strict standards for animal welfare. U.K. farms have some of the world’s highest welfare standards, but also higher production costs.
There is already a split in May’s cabinet about allowing imports of chlorine-washed chicken from the U.S., according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Questioned in Washington Monday about whether he would eat such chicken, Fox said the media is “obsessed” by a “detail of the very end stage of one sector of the potential agreement.” Back in London, May’s spokesman, James Slack, said the Telegraph report was premature and that any trade deal must work for farmers, consumers and businesses.
Removing commercial barriers with the U.S. could generate an additional 40 billion pounds ($50 billion) in trade with the U.K. by 2030, according to the U.K. government.