Tensions have emerged between Democrats and Republicans over the wisdom of Donald Trump prioritising a bilateral trade deal with the UK and leaving the European Union by the wayside, and the speed at which such a deal could be struck.
Democrats addressing a joint foreign affairs congressional hearing were wary of the US president’s enthusiasm for a bilateral deal, describing it as either unrealistic or likely to damage US relations with Europe.
It was the first public discussion of the issue on Capitol Hill since Theresa May met Trump in Washington.
Some experts warned that it might take eight years for a deal to be concluded, and that negotiations were likely to be difficult due to the threat posed to British farmers and workers’ rights, and consumer opposition to US products such as hormone-treated beef.
Others at the hearing were more bullish. Nile Gardiner, director of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation at the Heritage Foundation, said a deal could be struck within 90 days of the UK leaving the EU in 2019. Such a deal would be “a force generator for economic liberty through genuine bilateral free trade based upon the principles of sovereignty and economic freedom”, he said.
Bill Keating, the lead Democrat on the foreign affairs committee, said he was concerned by suggestions that maintaining a special relationship with Britain would come at the expense of maintaining robust relationships with the rest of Europe, which accounts for 80% of US transatlantic trade.
via The Guardian
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