Sajid Javid, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer, pictured during the 50th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020. (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

US talks up trade deal with post-Brexit Britain this year

January 23, 2020 - 4:45 am

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — The U.S. is talking up the prospects of tying up a trade deal with Britain this year and thinks it should be pretty straightforward to accomplish given how similar the two economies are.

At a press briefing at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he's heading to London this weekend to discuss an array of issues with his counterpart Sajid Javid, most notably with regard to a trade deal.

“It’s an absolute priority of President Trump and we expect to complete that within this year," Mnuchin said. “I think it will be great for them and great for us."

Britain leaves the European Union on Jan. 31 and will then be able to start negotiating its own trade deals with whoever it likes — as a member of the EU, trade deals were negotiated on a bloc-wide basis.

Though Javid has said that negotiating a future trade deal with the EU will be his “top priority,” discussions with the U.S. will be taking place in parallel. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he wants — and expects — the trade deal with the EU to be wrapped up this year.

“I think what I saw coming out was that they wanted to accomplish both these deals in 2020," said Mnuchin. “That’s obviously an aggressive timeline."

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that a trade deal between the two countries shouldn't be too difficult and said there are fewer differences between the two countries than with the EU.

“Our economies are much more similar," he said. “Both are very heavily services oriented and within services, such as financial services there’s already a pretty high degree of integration and coordination so it should be much easier mechanically."

Ross also sought to dampen concerns raised in Britain, most notably by the Labour Party opposition during the recent general election campaign, that a future trade deal will mean higher drug prices as U.S. pharmaceutical companies look to gain concessions from Britain's state-run National Health Service.

“What we think is that drugs should have similar prices wherever they are but I don’t believe we are in any position to tell the U.K. what they should pay for drugs," he said.

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()