The two leaders signed a new “U.K.-U.S. Trade Negotiation Agreement” that would pave the way for a formal free-trade deal to be signed “as soon as possible” after the U.K. leaves the European Union, a Number 10 official said.
During lunch at the White House on Friday, President Trump pledged to keep in place the same arrangements Britain currently has with the U.S. through the EU after Brexit, to increase trade between the two countries “more than ever before” and to work to put in place a new bilateral trading relationship between Britain and the U.S., added the official, who was briefing the traveling British press in the Turkish capital Ankara, where May stopped over on her way back from the U.S.
Trump and the British Prime Minister agreed to set up joint U.K.-U.S. working groups “to start scoping what can be achieved together before the United Kingdom exits the European Union,” the official added.
The declarations from Washington are intended to calm business anxieties around the future of U.K.-U.S. trade relations following Britain’s exit from the EU sometime in 2019. Speaking after the meeting with President Trump, May said the U.K.’s outreach to Washington “underlines our commitment to use the opportunities of Brexit.”
The Trade Negotiation Agreement is designed to deal with potential stumbling blocks that could delay the completion of a free trade deal. It will also be used to bring forward measures to reduce trade barriers before Brexit such as removing roaming charges and non-tariff barriers blocking agricultural exports.
“While we remain members of the EU we can’t sign a free trade agreement,” a Downing Street official said. “But there are other steps we can take.”
“It’s maintaining the economic co-operation America currently has with the EU and replicating that between the U.S. and the U.K.,” added the official. “You can remove non-trade tariffs to goods, using the ability of workers to work in the UK and the US, action on roaming charges. Things like that to make business between the two easier.” [...]
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