UK Officials Want Trump Trade Deal at Front of the Line After Brexit: Report

HERTFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson shakes hands with US President Donald Trump onstage during the annual NATO heads of government summit on December 4, 2019 in Watford, England. France and the UK signed the Treaty of Dunkirk in 1947 in the aftermath of WW2 cementing …
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Senior officials in the British government are urging the prime minister to prioritise signing a U.S. trade deal after Brexit.

Sources told Business Insider that Department for International Trade officials would see the successful completion of a Trump trade deal before any others as a victory for Brexit Britain. DIT also reportedly wants to agree on deals with New Zealand and Australia in a similar timeframe.

The report comes during a week of similar reports that ministers are assessing the feasibility of prioritising a Trump trade deal over an EU deal, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson allegedly agreeing to a “hell for leather” approach to signing a free trade agreement with the United States.

In recent weeks, Cabinet ministers and the U.S. ambassador to the UK Woody Johnson have said that the government should pursue an American trade deal to put pressure on Brussels. The EU has threatened to hold up a trade deal with the UK, primarily over the prospect of the UK diverging from the bloc after the transition period ends on December 31st, 2020.

Brexiteer and former leader of the Conservative Party Iain Duncan Smith backs prioritising a U.S. trade deal to show Brussels that London is looking beyond Europe to forge trading relationships, writing in The Telegraph:

First, once we officially leave, we must do a much better job than we have done so far in the next negotiating round. The EU have it all mapped out, they believe they have us over a barrel and are toughening their position. From what they understand in their conversations with civil servants, the UK will seek trade talks first with the EU before commencing any serious talks with the USA.

As the EU drags its feet into March before they deign to start talks with the UK, they appear certain that we will only go through the motions with the USA. Yet this early skirmish is one we must win. We have to confound the EU’s expectations and engage with the United States immediately.

–UK “top of the list of trade agreements”–

The United States shares Britain’s goal to prioritise a bilateral free trade agreement, with U.S. Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin telling media during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday that the UK is “at the top of the list” for an FTA after Brexit.

“On the UK, the president has been clear going back to the election that the UK is our number one ally and will be at the top of the list of trade agreements. We look forward to getting that done this year,” Mr Mnuchin said.

“We’re encouraged. We know they also have to get a deal with the EU,” he added.

Mr Mnuchin said earlier in the week that the UK-U.S. FTA will be signed by the end of the year.

Also speaking from Davos this week, President Donald Trump said he was looking forward to “negotiating a tremendous new deal with the United Kingdom”.

–Japan reportedly seeking UK trade deal–

Meanwhile, Japan is also reportedly seeking a bilateral trade deal with Brexit Britain. Whitehall sources have told The Sun that the country’s prime minister, Abe Shinzo, says that he wants a deal as soon as possible.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly backs pursuit of a quick trade deal with the far-east country, with a senior Whitehall source telling the tabloid: “The PM is very keen on the Japan deal now, and think we can use it as a bit of a trailblazer.

“It will really help to show Brussels as well as the rest of the world we’re ready to go.”

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