Trump Unimpressed With UK Withdrawal Deal
The USA is still the world’s largest economy. Acquiring a deep “free trade” deal with the USA has long been a goal of Brexiters. During the EU referendum, Leave campaigners poured scorn on the suggestion by President Obama that the UK would “go to the back of the queue” for a deal if it left the EU. Obama’s policy was to strike trade deals with major blocs such as the EU, the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership and extend the North American Free Trade Agreement. His successor has abandoned this policy and adopted an “America first” nationalist trade agenda, utilising America’s economic clout in trade wars to secure American objectives.
President Trump will have infuriated Brexit true believers by stating his opinion that May’s deal “sounds like a great deal for the EU” and by casting doubt on the possibility that the USA will be able to sign a free trade deal with the UK in the near term. He actually suggested that the deal might stop the UK from trading with the USA, but probably should not have!
Speaking to journalists outside The White House on Sunday, the President said:
“Sounds like a great deal for the EU. I think we have to take a look at, seriously, whether or not the UK is allowed to trade. Because, you know, right now, if you look at the deal, they may not be able to trade with us … I don’t think that the prime minister meant that. And, hopefully, she’ll be able to do something about that.”
Going into damage limitation mode, a British government spokesman said:
“The political declaration we have agreed with the EU is very clear we will have an independent trade policy so that the UK can sign trade deals with countries around the world – including with the US. We have already been laying the groundwork for an ambitious agreement with the US through our joint working groups, which have met five times so far”.
The UK will not be able to implement any new trade deals during the transition period envisaged in the deal (12/20) or should it be extended. In the event that the backstop element comes into force, the UK would be able to negotiate trade deals related to services, but would not have flexibility to extend this to deals covering goods.