Trump Sees ‘Major Trade Deal’ With U.K. (Time to put your money where your mouth is — No false promises)

White House official says deal could cover wide range of issues, such as agriculture, aviation and financial services

President Donald Trump listens to an Air Force Airmen at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport Tuesday before speaking at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio.
President Donald Trump listens to an Air Force Airmen at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport Tuesday before speaking at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio. PHOTO: DAVID DERMER/ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Donald Trump said Tuesday his administration was negotiating “to do a major trade deal” with the U.K., aiming to have it kick in soon after Britain completes its exit from the European Union in early 2019.

“It’ll be a big trade deal—much, much more business than we do right now, many, many times,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Trump’s enthusiasm for expanding trading ties with the U.K. stood in contrast with his more critical comments about the European bloc that Britain is leaving. “I have a good relationship with the EU people and all, but they are very, very protectionist,” the president said.

Mr. Trump spoke as Britain’s trade secretary, Liam Fox, was visiting Washington, formally opening trade talks with administration officials and meeting with members of Congress.

A White House official in a separate interview later elaborated on Mr. Trump’s comments, saying that a future U.S.-U.K. deal could cover a wide range of issues, such as agriculture, aviation and financial services. He said that “there may be things that we do with the U.K. that are not covered by the EU” under current trading arrangements.

During the interview, Mr. Trump also said his administration’s long-anticipated curbs on steel imports were still being discussed internally, and that it may be some time before he takes any action—perhaps after higher-priority agenda items like overhauling the tax code get completed.

Earlier this year, Mr. Trump and his Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, had said they would look to impose new steel protections in the name of “national security” by the end of June. But that timetable slipped amid objections from trading partners, domestic steel users, and some of Mr. Trump’s own aides.

“The president said he’s waiting for more and more information,” the White House official said in explaining the delay. The official added that Mr. Trump is focused on “getting things done right, and in an order that makes sense.” He then said: “The first priority for the president and his agenda is tax reform.”

Talk of forging a U.S.-U.K. deal works politically for both sides, allowing Mr. Trump to point to deals that could create jobs for Americans and Mr. Fox, a strong opponent of British membership of the European Union, to point to a deal as the sort of agreement that would be impossible with the U.K. inside the EU. Mr. Trump’s enthusiasm for working with an independent Britain marks a sharp turn from the perspective of his predecessor, Barack Obama, who threatened the U.K. before the June 2016 vote that a Brexit would force the U.K. to the “back of the queue” for trade talks.

The U.K. talks allow Mr. Trump to show progress in his quest to expand trade under certain circumstances he deems in America’s interest—not just imposing new trade barriers or trying to rip up or rewrite existing pacts—and to pursue the kind of bilateral trade deal he favors over multilateral agreements. The U.K.’s enthusiasm for negotiating a bilateral agreement with the Trump administration contrasts with other trading partners, like Japan, which has been cool to similar overtures.

Britain’s membership of the EU—a customs union that sets common external tariffs—means it can’t negotiate in detail a trade deal until it leaves the EU, which will likely happen in March 2019.

EU members haven’t objected to the U.K. scoping out the prospect for post-Brexit trade deals, which it has also explored with countries like Australia, New Zealand and India. But any U.S.-U.K. deal would also need to be considered in light of what the post-Brexit trade environment between the EU and U.K. would look like.

In particular, the British government appears to have reached a consensus that a transition period of some years will be necessary to minimize the trade disruption with the EU, which accounts for about 44% of British exports compared with around 17% for the U.S. (The U.S. is one of the few major economies with which Britain runs a trade surplus.)

The transition is likely to include continued British membership of the EU’s customs union, which would mean the U.K. couldn’t enter into any deal with the U.S. until 2022 at the earliest.

The U.S. would certainly require access for its farm products—including chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-fed meat, and GMO crops that are controversial in the U.K. as elsewhere in Europe. Meantime, the U.K. would seek access to the U.S. for its financial-services industry, which the U.S. Treasury opposed for the now-moribund trade agreement the Obama administration was negotiating with the EU.

While pursuing the new trade deal with Britain, Mr. Trump’s administration is also preparing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.

Mr. Trump instructed his aides to try to rewrite the 23-year-old pact after he weighed pulling out altogether back in April. But he made clear in the interview that he still holds the agreement in disdain—calling it “one of the truly bad deals,” and said he still reserves the right to pull the U.S. out if the talks don’t satisfy him.

“We’re in the midst of a renegotiation right now,” Mr. Trump said. “So we’ll see. And maybe we’ll have to terminate.”

Asked if he thought the pact was salvageable, he answered: “it may be salvageable…I have an obligation to give it a shot.”

Write to Jacob M. Schlesinger at and Stephen Fidler at

Appeared in the July 26, 2017, print edition as ‘U.S., U.K. Discussing Major Deal On Trade.’


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One Response to “Trump Sees ‘Major Trade Deal’ With U.K. (Time to put your money where your mouth is — No false promises)”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

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