Bolton’s UK trade-deal promise leaves questions unanswered

U.S. & World

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a roundtable to improve the criminal justice system, at 10 Downing Street in London, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool Photo via AP)

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday that getting a free trade deal with the United States would be “a tough old haggle,” after U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton promised the U.K. quick sector-by-sector trade deals once it leaves the European Union.

Bolton said after meeting Johnson on Monday that “it might be possible to reach a bilateral agreement very quickly, very straightforwardly” in some areas of trade after Brexit.

Bolton said that “in the Trump administration, Britain’s constantly at the front of the trade queue — or line as we say.”

The comments could be interpreted as a boost to Johnson, who has vowed that Britain will leave the EU on Oct. 31, with or without a divorce deal. Supporters of Brexit say a free trade deal with the United States can help make up for any reduction in commerce with the EU after Britain leaves the bloc’s single market for goods and services.

In 2018, Britain did almost half its trade with the EU, while the U.S. accounted for 18% of U.K. exports and 11% of imports.

Johnson said Tuesday that “In the U.S. there are all sorts of opportunities we have to open up trade.”

“We will do a great deal with them and it will open up opportunities for U.K. businesses, and especially service companies, in the U.S.,” he said.

“It will be a tough old haggle — but we will get there,” he added.

Trade experts said Bolton’s warm words for Britain left many key questions unanswered.

David Henig, director of the U.K. Trade Policy Project at the European Centre for International Political Economy, said sectoral trade deals were feasible, along the lines of the U.S.-EU Open Skies agreement on aviation. But he cautioned that grander claims about a trans-Atlantic free trade deal were premature.

“The scope for significant growth in trade from the U.K. side is not great,” he said. “From the U.S. side … there is scope for a lot more U.S. exports of agriculture” — but those would be controversial in Britain, where many regard U.S., animal-welfare standards as lax.

He said both governments could want a “token” trade deal for political reasons.

“President Trump wants a win before the election next year, Boris Johnson wants a U.S. deal,” Henig said. “So it’s not impossible to see them announcing on Nov. 1: ‘We have a trade deal.’ It might not mean an awful lot. … The devil, as often, could be in the detail.”

As for Bolton’s “front of the queue” remark — a dig at former President Barack Obama’s 2016 assertion that a post-Brexit Britain would be at the “back of the queue” for a U.S. trade deal — Henig said “it’s not entirely clear that anybody else is in the queue.”

“Most people are trying to avoid having trade deals with the U.S. because they think they’d be disadvantageous,” he said. “We may be the only people actually wanting this, because Trump doesn’t really believe in trade anyway. He’s a ‘U.S. first’ person.”

The value of the British pound has plummeted in recent weeks as the odds shorten on Britain crashing out of the EU without an agreement, an outcome most economists say would cause economic turmoil. Britain’s Parliament has rejected the existing divorce agreement and the EU refuses to renegotiate, so a no-deal Brexit appears increasingly likely.

Pro-EU lawmakers hope to take action in Parliament this fall to block a no-deal departure — either by passing legislation or by bringing down the government, which could lead to an early election.

Johnson has refused to rule out suspending Parliament if legislators try to delay or prevent Brexit. On Tuesday a judge set a hearing next month for an attempt by opposition lawmakers to stop Johnson from bypassing Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Judge Raymond Doherty said a substantive hearing should take place Sept. 6 on a claim by more than 70 parliamentarians that sending lawmakers home before Oct. 31 would be “unlawful and unconstitutional.”

___

Follow AP’s full coverage of Brexit at: https://www.apnews.com/Brexit

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

CBS47 On Your Side

Do you have a problem that you need help solving? Contact CBS47 and let us be On Your Side.

Phone: 559-761-0383
Email: OnYourSide@cbsfresno.com

Don’t Miss

Best of the Valley
Sunday Morning Matters
MedWatch Today
Hispanic Heritage
Bulldog Insider: The Podcast
The Valley's Armenia
Pros Who Know

Images from Armenia

Small patients in Armenia
Yerevan by night.
Dr. Jeff Thomas delivers.
Dr. Jeff Thomas delivers in Gyumri.
Doctors unpack medical supplies from The Central Valley.
Fresno Medical Mission at work.
Medical Supplies being unloaded.
Fresno Medical Mission at the ready.
KSEE24 crew witnesses the miracle of life in Gyumri, Armenia.
Life saving work of Central Valley surgeons in Armenia.
Ribbon cutting on new surgical center in Ashtarak Armenia. Fresno donors made this dream come true.
KSEE24 on assignment with the Fresno Medical Mission
Honorary Consulate to Armenia Berj Apkarian explains the crisis facing one hospital.
KSEE24's Stefani Booroojian and Kevin Mahan at the meeting with President Bako Sahakyan.
Medical Meeting in Artsakh.
The President of Artsakh meets with the Fresno Medical Mission.
Learning modern medicine techniques with the Fresno Medical Mission in surgery.
Leaning in for a look. Dr. Brien Tonkinson holds class and helps a patient in Armenia.
Fresno Medical Mission cares on one of the smallest patients in the region. Six-year old Yanna receives life-changing better breathing surgery.