Two of the world’s superpowers could soon join forces in a “powerful” trade deal between the US and the UK. Donald Trump and Theresa May have both agreed to make a post-Brexit trade deal a priority, though an official announcement is years down the road.
Trump and May recently met for a one-on-one meeting during the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. According to officials, much of the discussion centered around trade and the positive similarities between the countries.
“They agreed to prioritize work so a deal will be ready as soon as possible after Britain leaves the EU,” said an official who was at the meeting. “They pledged to examine areas now where the two countries can deepen their trade relations. The president made clear he believed the UK would thrive outside the EU.”
While no specifics of a potential deal were discussed during the meeting, there was definitely a sense of friendship and unity between the leaders.
The deal could potentially be good for both sides—the UK needs trade partners as it steps away from the EU, and the US is looking to build bilateral relationships as Trump threatens to pull the US out of multilateral trade agreements such as NAFTA.
Trump has repeatedly mentioned the “special relationship” between the US and the UK, which could help move trade talks along. May has been slightly more reserved in her words about Trump, but she has remained positive throughout his presidency.
“There is no country that could possibly be closer than our countries,” Trump told reporters after the meeting.”We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal, a very powerful deal, great for both countries and I think we will have that done very, very quickly.”
Although Trump said he expects the deal to be completed very quickly and that he would visit London, a date has not been set. While May says she is optimistic about the deal, her focus remains on the Brexit negotiations, so the deal may have to wait until those are complete. Formal talks can’t begin until after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, according to EU rules.
Although there is positive momentum now, some officials on both sides are questioning how soon a deal can really be reached, especially when the earliest start time is two years away. Trade talks tend to be lengthy and technical, according to experts.
A number of other major world players are reportedly also interested in working closely with the UK on trade after Brexit, which could potentially throw a wrench into the US’s plans. May has already reached out to leaders of other EU nations to build bridges between those countries and the UK in the future after official EU ties are broken.
“The Americans and others will not negotiate with us until they know what our relationship with the EU is going to be, because the access we have in Europe is hugely important for the advantages that they can get from their relations with us,” said former diplomat Sir Simon Fraser.
Trump is also known for being rather unpredictable, which could affect a future deal. May has said repeatedly that she doesn’t support Trump’s move to pull the US out the Paris Climate Accord; future actions could distance the two leaders if Trump continues to make controversial decisions. There’s also the issue of his repeated “America First” philosophy and the question of what that would do to a potential trade deal.
There are a lot of factors contributing to a US-UK trade deal, but for now the deal looks to be a positive and powerful agreement between two strong countries that could improve their position on the global stage and help them reach their individual goals.