Trade, Trade, Trade: UK’s Prime Minister Heading to the White House

Written by | Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

Theresa May is going to engage in one of the most difficult trans-Atlantic talks since the end of the WWII on Friday (28 January) when she will meet0 with the newly inaugurated US President Trump in Washington. Mrs. May wants to prepare the United Kingdom for the difficult Brexit talks by discussing a UK-US free trade agreement with President Trump as well as security issues such as the Syrian conflict and the fight against terrorism.

Still, trade and economy will undoubtedly top the agenda and, for Mrs. May, this visit is very important. Last week, she announced for the first time that she planned to withdraw the UK from the European Union’s single market and potentially also customs union. This would mean that there might be new barriers to trade between both sides after 44 years of economic integration. This will be true especially if London sticks to its promise that the UK would leave the EU without any deal or compensation for lost EU trade if a satisfactory deal is not struck.

In the meantime, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, commented that Brexit would not be without pain as more and more reports are emerging of banks planning to relocate jobs from London to Paris. Some estimate that the number could reach 1,000. According to HSBC bank Stuart Gulliver, London will remain a global financial center, though activities that are linked to the single market need to move. Despite many unknowns, Mrs. Lagarde overall welcomed Theresa May’s controversial speech, saying that “less uncertainty is certainly better for the UK economy and for the rest of the European Union”.

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