Daily Management Review

UK Wants To Start Trade Talks With Us Even Before Brexit Talks


UK Wants To Start Trade Talks With Us Even Before Brexit Talks
The United Kingdom is likely to start negotiations on trade with the United States even before it initiated Brexit talks with the European Union, claimed a report published in Telegraph.
The report cited source information that claimed UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is likely to seek approval for the talks from the Cabinet for proposed direct talks with the US during his visit to Washington next month.
An advice on the “pros and cons” of starting trade talks with America even before starting similar negotiations with the EU have been drawn up by British civil servants, the report said.
The argument for going to the US first is to show: “We mean business and we’re not messing around,” said the report quoting a UK government source that had reportedly seen the advice.
The source said that such a measure would also allow the UK to avoid becoming “trapped” by Brussels negotiators as was the case with Teresa May and is aimed at “negating some of the concerns of the EU trying to play the ball in the way they want”.
“The political signal would be - 'We’ve got the capacity to do this at the same time, don’t hold this up',” said the source, reported the Telegraph.
The US was “impatient to get started”, said another source who had knowledge about the plans in Washington, the report said.
The UK government has already appointed all the “chapter heads” that are typically covered in the individual sections for a trade deal and has “matched” them with their American counterparts in order to fast track the process, the report said.
After the UK Cabinet approves the beginning of the talks with the US, the government will publish UK trade negotiation objectives within the next two weeks according to the time frame being discussed by both sides, the Telegraph reported. The report also said that the US should take about two weeks to respond to the publication prior to a political launch.
“There is so much political will on both sides for this, the understanding is that the first talks round will come very rapidly after the two-week review period, which could mean as early [to] late February,” said the source as reported by the Telegraph.
However, a final decision is yet to be taken and different scenarios are being presented to the ministers. Meanwhile a “streamlined” Cabinet process was in place to expedite the talks process.
Discussions of the negotiating objectives for US and EU deals are expected to be held next week by the Brexit and Trade Cabinet Committee of the UK.
It is expected that Johnson will visit Washington in the second or third week in February prior to the US president Donald Trump setting off his re-election campaign.
The outcome of the talks cannot be pre-determined if Johnson pushed the button on US-UK talks, said Sam Lowe, a trade expert at the Centre for European Reform think-tank.
“Staging a big ‘kick-off’ moment is an easy political win for both Johnson and Trump. But it would not surprise me if the UK decides not to publish its objectives, which would require it to publicize exactly what it wants from a deal with the US,” he added.