Will Trump trump Obama?

Thu, January 26th, 2017

What next for our ‘special relationship’?

British Prime Minister Theresa May will be among the first to meet with newly installed US President Donald Trump this week – and many speculate that a new trade deal is sure to be top of the agenda.

Trump has talked about how pleased he is that Britain has voted to leave the European Union and has indicated he is keen to cement the “special relationship” between the US and UK with a trade agreement favourable to both.

Britain already sells £30bn worth of goods and services to the US every year - a little ahead of what we sell to Germany and four times what we send to China.

Any push to increase that can only be good news for Merseyside exporters, says Andy Snell, director of international trade at Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce.

He said: “The narrative on trade is now is moving quickly.

“Wilbur Ross the billionaire recently appointed as commerce lead by Trump has stated that he wants to "embolden the special relationship” between our two countries.

“There is actually potential for UK to get special treatment.

“It is now widely reported, and understood, that Trump will want to offer the UK a trade agreement, either as an extension of the Canadian agreement into a new North Atlantic Trade Agreement or a separate bilateral deal.”

Whilst there have been suggestions a UK/US free trade deal could be announced in weeks after Brexit, Andy adds that we also need to be realistic in our expectations. Trump may have made friendly overtures to the UK but he has also been quite firm in his intention to put America first.

It is also important to point out that while negotiations can take place, no deal can be signed until Britain actually leaves the EU.

Andy added: “While Mr Trump is against trade agreements that expose America to less developed markets, leading to a loss of manufacturing jobs, a deal with Britain may not bring the same risks.”

Implications for UK businesses trading or operating in the US are unlikely to be felt in 2017 or even 2018. Talk of a ‘quick’ deal would be legislatively impossible for both sides.

Congress require 90 days notice before opening negotiations, a further 30 days warning of objectives and then another 90 days notice before ratification. The US took 4 years to ratify the quickest deal in their history - with South Korea.

Moreover the UK has clear legal constraints, we are not allowed to begin formal trade negotiations until Article 50 is triggered AND the full process of Brexit completed – a process likely to take up to March 2019.

Meanwhile, Trump is moving at lightning pace on all fronts, scrapping ‘obamacare’ and building his wall without finance in place. He calls international trade a zero sum game that produces ‘champs and chumps’ - a clear strategy is needed if the UK are to find themselves on the right side of this one.

Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce will host a breakfast event that aims to discuss positive opportunities to work with the US on Wednesday, 1 March.

To register your place visit click here or for more information email andy.snell@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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