U.S. Treasury Secretary: Post-Brexit Trade Deal to Be Inked by End of Year

US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, January 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

The Treasury Secretary of the United States, Steve Mnuchin, said that the Trump administration expects to sign a post-Brexit trade deal with the United Kingdom by the end of this year.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Mnuchin said that an Anglo-American trade deal is “an absolute priority” for President Donald Trump, further cementing Boris Johnson’s negotiating position with the European Union.

“What I saw coming out was that they wanted to accomplish both these deals in 2020. That’s obviously an aggressive timetable,” the Treasury secretary said per the BBC.

“That’s an absolute priority of President Trump and we expect to complete that with them this year, which we think will be great for them and great for us,” he added.

His comments were echoed by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who said at the same Davos event that signing a trade deal with the United Kingdom will be “much easier mechanically” than with the European Union.

President Trump also criticised the EU this week, saying that the bloc has not “treated us right”, adding: “They have trade barriers where you can’t trade, they have tariffs all over the place. They make it impossible. Frankly, they are more difficult to do business with than China.”

A possible stumbling block in trade talks with the United States is the issue of a proposed tech-tax on American digital companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, which is set to be implemented in April.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid said that the United Kingdom will not back down from its planned multibillion-pound tax on American tech firms.

“We think the digital tax is discriminatory in nature… if people want to arbitrarily put taxes on our digital companies we’ll consider arbitrarily putting taxes on car companies,” said Secretary Mnuchin in response.

France has suspended a similar tech-tax, following threats from the U.S. to impose tariffs on wine and cheese.

President Donald Trump struck an optimistic tone in Davos, however, saying that he is looking forward “to negotiating a tremendous new deal with the United Kingdom” and praising the UK’s “wonderful new Prime Minister”.

A free trade agreement between the United States and the UK is seen as a key pillar of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit strategy, following Britain’s exit from the European Union at the end of this month. Should a deal be signed with America, the United Kingdom will be able to demonstrate the bright future of its economic independence, thereby gaining leverage over the bloc in future trade negotiations.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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