Donald Trump ready to do trade deal with EU ahead of the UK

David Millward
Angela Merkel and Donald Trump speak at a White House press conference - Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

The US is ready to do a trade deal with the European Union ahead of any agreement with Britain, it has been reported.

Having promised Britain favourable treatment, Donald Trump has made reaching an agreement with the EU a higher priority.

According to The Times, the change of heart by the US president follows discussions with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last month.

Mr Trump had been pushing for trade deals with individual countries, but was told that the US would have to negotiate with the EU as a whole.

The position had been in a state of flux following Mr Trump's victory after the new administration shelved the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal between the EU and US.

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There is growing speculation that the deal could be revised or a new version agreed.

The US exported $270 billion (£210 billion) in goods to the EU last year, making it America's major trading partner. Exports to the UK were worth $55 billion.

During the EU referendum campaign, Barack Obama warned that Britain would go "to the back of the queue" if it voted to leave the European Union.

The former president's comments were greeted with outrage. Following the victory of Mr Trump, who is an enthusiastic supporter of Brexit, it had been hoped that the UK would get favourable treatment from the new administration.

As things stand, EU rules ban Britain from negotiating a separate deal until it has left the European Union, although Whitehall is reportedly hoping to start informal talks.

Cecilia Malmström, the EU’s trade commissioner, is due in Washington next week to meet members of the new administration including Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary.

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