Donald Trump promises 'very big and exciting' trade deal with the UK after Brexit

US President predicts 'JOBS!' in tweet about potential future arrangement with Britain

Tom Batchelor
Washington DC
,Alexandra Wilts
Tuesday 25 July 2017 14:30 BST
The President’s upbeat tone came despite concern in the UK about a potential watering down of food standards in an effort to secure a deal with Washington
The President’s upbeat tone came despite concern in the UK about a potential watering down of food standards in an effort to secure a deal with Washington

Donald Trump has promised a “very big and exciting” trade deal with the UK after Brexit. In a tweet on Tuesday lunchtime, the US President said his administration was “working on a major trade deal”, adding: "Could be very big & exciting. JOBS!"

He also accused the EU of being “very protectionist” and told the bloc to "STOP!" Mr Trump earlier predicted a “new chapter for stronger trade” between Britain and America.

Even though the President has said he wants to see the two countries quickly seal a bilateral trade deal, it often takes years to negotiate tariff and non-tariff barriers in areas such as agriculture and the car industry. The agreement will also require the approval of US Congress.

Mr Trump has suggested that he will only sign trade agreements that he views will benefit American workers and will keep jobs in the US.

Upon taking office in January, the President abandoned an ambitious multinational trade agreement brokered by his predecessor Barack Obama, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, and said the US would only form trade deals with individual allies.

Mr Trump's upbeat tone in his Tuesday tweet came despite concern in the UK about a potential watering down of food standards in an effort to secure a post-Brexit deal with Washington.

A report by a House of Lords committee warned Theresa May not to slash food regulations in order to facilitate a quick deal, saying it could lead to a “race to the bottom for welfare standards”.

In particular, chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-treated beef and genetically modified foods, which are permitted in the US, have sparked concern. Environmentalists warn Britain may be forced to accept lower quality products, including the use of banned flavourings and increased pesticides.

Liam Fox rejects idea that potential reduction in meat safety is important factor in current trade negotiations

But the International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, played down fears that any agreement would open up British markets to sub-standard agricultural products. On a visit to Washington, he said: “The British media are obsessed with chlorine-washed chickens, a detail of the very end stage of one sector of a potential free trade agreement. I say no more than that."

Mr Trump, posting on the official presidential Twitter account, rather than his personal page, said on Monday: "Our special relationship w/ UK is going to be even better. USTradeRep & UK's LiamFox met today to begin new chapter for stronger trade!"

EU rules prohibit member states from making separate trade deals with countries outside the bloc. But Mr Fox has repeatedly insisted there is nothing to stop the British Government “scoping out” how a future relationship with America might look before Britain leaves the EU.

A new US/UK trade and investment working group set up by Mr Fox's Department for International Trade found more than 700,000 US jobs were supported by exports to the UK in 2015.

Quizzed on the prospect of chlorine-washed chicken, Ms May’s spokesman said “maintaining the safety and public confidence in the food we eat is of the highest priority” and that any future trade deal “must work for UK farmers, businesses and consumers”.

But Labour’s Ben Bradshaw said: "The Government is putting the Fox in charge of the hen coop when it comes to food safety. This row about chlorine chicken is a direct result of the Government's decision to leave the single market.

“They are so desperate for new trade deals to make up for some of the losses that they seem ready to compromise on the safety of the food we eat.”

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said any trade deal between the US and UK would not be "remotely comparable to the potential losses" Britain will sustain if it withdraws from the EU through a hard Brexit. Sir Vince claimed any agreement struck with America would not offset the potential losses of leaving the European Single Market and Customs Union.

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