Michael Froman, President Obama’s chief trade negotiator, has warned that the UK must first redefine its relationship with the EU before the UK and US can enter into serious trade negotiations. Mr Froman indicated that issues such as tariffs, regulations, standards and quotas must be resolved first at a European level, before the UK is in a position to strike a transatlantic deal: “even as the UK seeks to further trade with the US, it will want to maintain the deepest possible ties with the rest of the EU – where there are differences between the European and American approach to an issue – how the UK will square that circle – I think that is the biggest challenge”. While Mr Froman believed that Theresa May’s speech last month in which she outlined her vision for a post-Brexit Britain helped to clarify certain elements, he added “it is just the beginning of a process – a process in which the UK parliament, the European Commission, Council and Parliament, as well as Member States will all play a role”. Sir Nigel Sheinwald, former British ambassador to the EU & US, said that Mr Froman’s comments revealed “an inconvenient truth: that a major trade and investment partner, the US, sees no influential role for the UK in international trade negotiations if we go it alone”. However, Donald Trump and Theresa May have both expressed a desire to reach a ‘speedy’ UK-US trade deal and negotiate terms as soon as possible in the interest of both nations.
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