The Corner

National Security & Defense

Is a U.S.–U.K. Free-Trade Agreement on the Way?

Abandoning President Obama’s insulting “back of the queue” rhetoric now that Britons have voted to Brexit, the Obama administration is signaling an openness to a U.S.–U.K. free-trade agreement. Newly named British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London and one of the leaders of the Leave campaign, met with his American counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry, in London yesterday. The Wall Street Journal reports:

[Kerry said] that ties between the U.S. and Britain were “special and unbreakable” and that no shift in administration — either in the U.K. or the U.S. — would undermine that relationship.

In terms of the trading relationship between the two countries, [Kerry] said there are “complicated questions that are posed by Brexit” because the U.K. can’t sign a trade agreement with the U.S. until it actually leaves the EU. But Messrs. Kerry and Johnson said the U.S. and U.K. were prepared to engage in conversations about a bilateral deal.

“Clearly you can begin to pencil things in — you can’t ink them in, and that’s entirely right and proper,” Mr. Johnson said.

This is, without question, excellent news. In the aftermath of the Brexit vote last month, I argued for the U.S. to immediately reach out to our British cousins with an offer to negotiate a bilateral trade pact between the two English-speaking powers. Cato Institute adjunct scholar Scott Lincicome told me that “politically, it’s a good deal — for the diplomatic and foreign-policy reasons, it makes a good amount of sense.”

And there would be economic [benefits, as well]. If the U.K. is going through a turbulent economic time, it’s always good for a key ally to stick its hand out and help them weather the storm.

Lincicome added that “in a normal presidential election, the GOP candidate would be out promising a free-trade deal between the U.S. and U.K.”

Will Donald Trump join Mike Lee, Tom Cotton, Paul Ryan, and, now, the Obama administration in proposing a further strengthening of the Anglo-American “Special Relationship”? For the sake of needed trans-Atlantic unity in a turbulent and dangerous world, I sure hope he does.


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