US Treasury chief Mnuchin says optimistic about US-UK trade deal
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he was optimistic the United States and Britain, soon to be out of the European Union, would strike a trade deal this year and that he had discussed it with Britain’s finance minister on Saturday.
US President Donald Trump is keen for progress on trade talks before November’s presidential election, while in Britain the prospect of a deal has been touted by Brexit supporters as a way to offset the impact of leaving the EU and to exert leverage over the bloc in trade talks between London and Brussels.
“I’m quite optimistic. I think the prime minister and the president have a very good relationship,” Mnuchin told an audience at the Chatham House think tank in London.
Mnuchin said he had a breakfast meeting with his British counterpart minister Sajid Javid on Saturday, having also spoken to him this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“We’re focused on trying to get this done this year because we think it’s important to both of us,” he said.
After the United States recently concluded the initial phase of a trade agreement with China, deals with Britain and the European Union were now the priority, Mnuchin said.
While Mnuchin conceded that Britain may need to finalize some issues with the EU before it could discuss them with Washington, he didn’t see this leading to a delay.
“I think a lot of the issues can be dealt with simultaneously and again we look forward to continuing a great trade relationship, and, if anything, I think there will be significantly more trade between the US and the UK,” he said.
Asked by a reporter if Britain’s plan to implement a digital services tax on US technology giants such as Facebook and Google could hinder the trade negotiations, Mnuchin said that he discussed the issue on Saturday with Javid.