Boris Johnson: UK-US trade deal will be a ‘tough old haggle’

Brokering a transatlantic trade deal won’t be easy but can be done, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday.

“It will be a tough old haggle, but we’ll get there,” Johnson told Sky News.

“In my experience, the Americans are very tough negotiators indeed,” he said, adding that the U.S. market “is growing very fast for the U.K., but they still ban haggis, for heaven’s sake.”

Johnson also said reaching a post-Brexit deal with the EU will be most important.

“The single biggest deal that we need to do is a free trade agreement with our friends and partners over the Channel.”

Johnson’s comments come a day after John Bolton, U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, said during a visit to the U.K. that the two countries could broker sector-by-sector deals to reach bilateral agreements “very quickly, very straightforwardly.”

Bolton’s comments have been dismissed by trade experts, who say piecemeal deals based on tariff reductions in one sector would not comply with World Trade Organization rules.

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Trump envoy: US would ‘enthusiastically’ back no-deal Brexit

America would “enthusiastically” support a no-deal Brexit, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Monday during a visit to London.

“If that’s the decision of the British government, we will support it enthusiastically, and that’s what I’m trying to convey,” Bolton told reporters on the first day of his two-day visit to the British capital, according to the Guardian. “We’re with you, we’re with you.”

He said the U.S. would consider striking sector-specific deals ahead of a full-scale trade pact.

“The ultimate end result is a comprehensive trade agreement covering all trading goods and services,” Bolton said. “But to get to that you could do it sector by sector, and you can do it in a modular fashion. In other words, you can carve out some areas where it might be possible to reach a bilateral agreement very quickly, very straightforwardly.”

Bolton also took aim at Brussels, saying: “The fashion in the European Union is when the people vote the wrong way from the way the elites want to go, is to make the peasants vote again and again until they get it right. There was a vote — everyone knew what the issues were. It is hard to imagine that anyone in this country did not know what was at stake. The result is the way it was. That’s democracy.”

He added: “Britain’s success in successfully exiting the European Union will be a statement about democratic rule and constitutional government. That’s important for Britain. But it’s important for the United States, too. So we see a successful exit as being very much in our interest, and there’s no quid pro quo on any of these issues.”

Bolton also said he couldn’t see a threat to the Good Friday Agreement as a result of Brexit, the Guardian wrote.

Bolton was expected to urge Britain to align more closely with America’s stance on Iran and on Huawei’s involvement in 5G telecoms networks, but he told reporters that Washington understood Brexit was the priority, given Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised to exit the EU by October 31.

“The U.S. government fully understands that in the next 80 days the U.K. government has a singular focus on the Brexit issue, so that we’re not pushing for anything on these broad and complex questions,” he told reporters.

The comments came after Johnson joined a meeting with Bolton and senior officials on Monday.

Bolton said Johnson’s relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump had “got off to a roaring start,” with the two having shared multiple phone calls since he assumed the British prime ministership. Their most recent conversation was on Monday, when Trump “expressed his appreciation for the United Kingdom’s steadfast partnership in addressing global challenges,” according to the White House readout of the call, and said he “looks forward” to meeting Johnson “personally in the near future.” Trump and Johnson are both expected to attend the G7 summit in Biarritz, France at the end of the month.

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Mike Pompeo: US will be ready with ‘pen in hand’ to sign post-Brexit trade deal

WASHINGTON — The United States will be on Britain’s “doorstep, pen in hand” to sign a trade deal as soon as possible after the U.K. leaves the European Union, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday.

The chief U.S. diplomat made the comment alongside Britain’s new foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, who was in Washington as part of a North American trip aimed at strengthening ties with non-European countries ahead of Brexit.

The pair appeared buoyant about the U.S.-British relationship, despite the strains caused by differences over how to deal with Iran, climate change and other issues.

U.K. officials hope new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump will eventually lead to a bilateral trade deal.

Pompeo seemed to give those hopes a boost, although he’s not a major player in the Trump administration when it comes to striking trade deals.

“We support the United Kingdom’s sovereign choice, however Brexit ultimately shakes out, and we’ll be on the doorstep, pen in hand, ready to sign a new free trade agreement at the earliest possible time,” he said.

Raab said the U.K. is “absolutely resolved” to be out of the EU by the end of October. Once Britain is out, it expects to be free to strike bilateral trade deals with other countries. Raab also reiterated the new U.K. government’s insistence that Brussels must be willing to reopen the Brexit deal struck with Theresa May.

“If the EU’s position is that there can be no change to the Withdrawal Agreement, then that will be a choice that they’ve made,” Raab said.

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Australia’s UK envoy sees hope of trade deal by end of 2020

Assuming Britain leaves the EU October 31, Australia is optimistic it can strike a trade pact with London “before the end of 2020” or even sooner, according to its U.K. envoy George Brandis.

“The reason I take that date is that it only took 15 months for Australia to complete our very, very ambitious FTA [free trade agreement] that is with the U.S. some 15 years ago,” the Australian high commissioner told POLITICO’s London Playbook. “The political will to do it is there.”

Whether the U.K. managed to strike a deal with the EU before leaving the bloc likely wouldn’t change things, Brandis said.

“I think myself that the shape of an FTA between the U.K. and Australia will be pretty much the same whether it is a no-deal Brexit or a Brexit with a deal, assuming that, as I think we may, that that deal doesn’t include a customs union or other trade restrictions on dealing with third-party nations,” he said.

Brandis urged the U.K. to take a positive view of its trade future after leaving the EU, telling pessimists to “look at the Australian experience.” Australia conducts 70 percent of its trade with countries with which it has trade agreements. “My advice to the U.K. government is to be bold and not be afraid of free trade agreements,” Brandis said.

Brandis pointed out that commodity trading between Australia and the U.K. is still “relatively modest” — though the biggest trade is wine. His favorite? “You can’t go wrong [with] a Penfolds — at whatever price point.” But what about British wine? “Some of it is very nice,” he conceded, but “I think the United Kingdom wine industry would have a way to go to match an Australian shiraz.”

Brandis, a former Australian Liberal Party senator who served in the conservative Howard, Abbott and Turnbull administrations, said he was a fan of the new British prime minister.

“What excites me about Boris Johnson is if anyone can rekindle that spirit of optimism in the British people, which I think has taken a bit of a hammering in recent years, it is him,” Brandis said. “If ever there was a nation which needed a good dose of optimism and encouragement not to be fearful of the future, but to embrace to restore that Carpe Diem spirit, it is the new prime minister.”

Brandis also defended the way British MPs have handled Brexit, saying that his own “shouty” parliament would not have coped as well.

“What has impressed me … is at a time when these profound and even existential issues are so acute, that the debate has been conducted with civility and maturity, and intelligence which bespeaks a very mature and sophisticated political system and a very mature political community,” Brandis said.

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