UK diplomats will commence talks with their US counterparts on a post-Brexit trade deal later this month, Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox has said.
European Union Rules
Although European Union rules mean that member states are not allowed to strike trade deals with non-EU countries – such as the United States of America – Mr Fox said there was nothing to put the UK government off from “scoping out” a future trade relationship with the US.
Mr Fox, appearing on BBC One’s political question and answer programme Question Time, confirmed talks with his US counterparts would begin on July 24th as the government looks to secure trade deals with “very, very big markets” outside the EU bloc.
The minister, the former UK defence secretary, tried to allay fears from a fellow Question Time panel member that US diplomats could be unable to agree to a deal unless the UK agrees to less rigorous food safety rules.
This is to do with worries that UK shops and supermarkets could be stocked with chicken washed in chlorine, beef treated with hormones and pork fortified with a drug that is banned in hundreds of countries around the world.
While refusing to be drawn on that particular issue, Mr Fox told the Question Time audience: “We are not rejecting Europe, we want an open and liberal trading arrangement with Europe.”
“But there are some very, very big markets out there that we will be able to take advantage of.”
“And as for [the claim that] the US will not talk to us, I’ve got news for you, we are beginning our actual discussions on the 24 July.”
The UK is a significant exporter to America, sending around £37 billion ($48 billion) more in goods and services to the country than it imports.
While former US President Barack Obama warned that the UK would be at the “back of the queue” for a trade pact if it voted for Brexit, incumbent President Donald Trump has struck a warmer tone, telling The Times earlier this year that the US is going to “work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly”.