U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has sent a gift to Brexit supporters. His letter notifying Congress that the Trump administration plans to seek a “cutting-edge” free-trade deal with the U.K. was music to the ears of those who have long argued that leaving the European Union will allow Britain to pursue an ambitious policy of bilateral trade deals.
Getting such a deal done is one thing. The main requirement is political will – and that exists on both sides at the moment. The real question is what Britain would get out of it.
The rationale for a U.S.-U.K. deal goes way beyond sentimentalities about the special relationship or Donald Trump’s Scottish golf courses. The U.S. accounted for 19 percent of the value of U.K. exports, is the country’s largest single bilateral trading partner, and biggest export market. No country invests more in Britain than the U.S., too. A transatlantic agreement could, according to the Department of Trade and Industry, boost that trade and have knock-on benefits for the U.K.’s lagging productivity.
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