President Obama made several assertions about US trade policy which do not hold up to scrutiny. He claimed:
‘America’s priority is to negotiate with big trading partners’. In fact, the USA has trade agreements with 20 countries – all of which are smaller than the UK.
‘America could not negotiate simultaneously with the EU and the UK’. In fact, America has been negotiating simultaneously with the Pacific trade block and the EU. The Pacific deal is now completed so they have plenty of spare negotiating capacity.
‘It would take 5 to 10 years to complete a US/UK trade deal’. In fact, bilateral deals are simpler, quicker and more comprehensive than deals involving large numbers of countries. All 28 EU members have a veto on the TTIP negotiations which is why it is taking so long and excludes so many areas.
I have no doubt that post Brexit we could reach a satisfactory deal with the US in parallel with the EU, maybe more speedily.
The President is entitled to say that it is in America’s interest that Britain remains in the EU. But he was ill-advised to try to bully us with empty threats.
Peter Lilley Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP – (former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry)