Raab on transatlantic quest for trade deal

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab headed for North America on Tuesday intent on "firing up" post-Brexit trade links with the US, Canada and Mexico.

Two hands, with US and UK flag superimposed, shake hands
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab headed for North America on Tuesday intent on "firing up" post-Brexit trade links with the US, Canada and Mexico.Appointed just two weeks ago, it was Mr Raab's second overseas foray after attending a summit of SE Asian foreign ministers in Bangkok last week. This week, he will be visiting Toronto, Washington and Mexico City.There were, however, contrasting views from senior figures in Washington over whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson's hopes of doing a trade deal with the US could ever be achieved.

Who will the UK trade with after Brexit? 

Before he left, Mr Raab said, "In my first fortnight as Foreign Secretary, I'm travelling east and west to underline that the UK is determined to strengthen our friendships with countries across the world and raise our international horizons."I'm determined that we fire up our economic relationships with non-European partners."That means working with them now to ensure a smooth transition of our trading arrangements after Brexit and means quickly moving to wide-ranging trade deals that boost business, lower prices for consumers and respect our high standards."I also want to build a stronger alliance to uphold international rule of law and tackle the issues that threaten our security, whether that's Iran's menacing behaviour or Russia's destabilising actions in Europe, or the threat from terrorism and climate change."

How long would a US-UK trade deal take to enact?

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Tuesday, US Senator Tom Cotton - the author of a letter signed by 45 Republican senators at weekend calling for a post-Brexit trade pact - said the UK should be at the "front of the queue" for a trade deal."Many of my colleagues in the Congress would say that Great Britain should be in the front of the queue given everything our nations have gone through together," he said."Obviously, it wouldn't be a matter of days or weeks for such negotiations, it might be months, but I would suspect it would be months, not years."In some matters, Great Britain has different standards than the United States when it comes to, say, the use of GMOs and crop production."Those are details to be negotiated. But the fundamental point is the United States Congress stands ready to support the British people in a post-Brexit environment."

What are the chances of a preferential trade deal with the US after Brexit? And why is the UK "close to delusional" for thinking it can achieve one?

But Larry Summers, former director of the National Economic Council in President Barrack Obama's administration, branded it as "close to delusional" for the UK to expect a preferential deal after Brexit.He told the Today programme, "I think the personal relationship is at best a small factor. Much more important for a trade agreement will be economic interests."I have some ideas in areas like chlorine chicken and genetically modified foods with what the United States will want. I suspect its bar for Britain will be higher than its bar for Europe as a whole."I'm not sure what Britain wants from the United States that it can plausibly imagine the United States will give."If Britain thinks that the American financial regulators who have great difficulty coming together on anything are going to come together to give greater permissions and less regulation of UK firms, I would call that belief close to delusional."

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