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At G7 summit, Trump offers Brexit Britain a ‘very big’ trade deal

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U.S.
President Donald Trump promised a big trade deal for post-Brexit Britain to
Boris Johnson on Sunday and praised the new prime minister as the right man to
take Britain out of the European Union.

Johnson, who
faces a delicate task of assuaging European allies while not angering Trump at
a G7 summit in France, said trade talks with the United States would be tough
but there were huge opportunities for British businesses in the U.S. market.

Speaking to
reporters with Johnson ahead of a trade-focused bilateral meeting, Trump said
Britain’s membership of the EU had been a drag on efforts to forge closer trade
ties.

“We’re going
to do a very big trade deal – bigger than we’ve ever had with the UK,” Trump
said. “At some point, they won’t have the obstacle of – they won’t have the
anchor around their ankle, because that’s what they had. So, we’re going to
have some very good trade talks and big numbers.”

With less
than three months until an Oct. 31 deadline, it is still totally unclear, how,
when or even whether Britain will leave the EU. The uncertainty around Brexit,
the United Kingdom’s most significant political and economic post-war move, has
left allies and investors aghast and roiled markets.

Opponents
fear Brexit will make Britain poorer and divide the West as it grapples with
both Trump’s unconventional presidency and growing assertiveness from Russia
and China.

Supporters
acknowledge the divorce might bring short-term instability but say in the
longer term it will allow the United Kingdom to thrive if cut free from what
they cast as a doomed attempt to forge European unity.

Trump and
Johnson were in the French seaside resort of Biarritz for a summit of G7
industrialised nations that exposed sharp difference over trade protectionism
and an array of other issues including climate change and digital taxes before
it had even begun.

Johnson will
on Sunday meet European Council head Donald Tusk, who on Satuday said Johnson
would go down as “Mr No-Deal” if he took Britain out of the EU without a
withdrawal agreement.

Johnson is
expected to tell Tusk that Britian will only pay 9 billion pounds instead of
the 39-billion-pound liability agreed by former prime minister Theresa May
under a no-deal Brexit, Sky News reported on Sunday.

On his
arrival on Saturday, Johnson said in reference to the escalating U.S.-China
trade war he was “very worried” about the growth of protectionism. He said
those who “supported tariffs were at risk of incurring the blame for the
downturn in the global economy”.

Sitting
opposite Trump on Sunday, Johnson praised the performance of the U.S. economy
before adding: “But just to register a faint, sheeplike note of our view on the
trade war – we are in favour of trade peace on the whole.”

Johnson used
a pre-summit phone call to Trump to demand he lower trade barriers and open up
parts of the U.S. economy to British firms, citing a wide range of markets from
cars to cauliflowers.

Britain was
looking forward to some comprehensive talks about taking the future UK-U.S.
relationship forward, Johnson said, adding he had made clear to Trump that the
National Health Service would not be a part of trade talks.

London’s
preference is for a comprehensive free trade deal with the United States post
Brexit, UK government officials say, while some U.S. officials including
Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton have talked of a sector-by-sector
approach.

Hints of those
divisions emerged on Sunday.

As Johnson said London and Washington would do a “fantastic deal”, Trump interrupted to say: “lots of fantastic mini-deals, we’re talking about many different deals but we’re having a good time.”

Source: Reuters

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