The United States treasury secretary has said that the US intends to come to an agreement on trade after Brexit with the UK by this year.
It is possible for the UK to negotiate trade deals simultaneously with the US and the European Union, said Steve Mnuchin after meeting Chancellor Sajid Javid in London.
“I’m quite optimistic,” he told a Chatham House think tank event.
The UK will be able to negotiate and sign new trade deals with any country after Brexit happens on January 31 because there will not be any existing EU deals.
During such time, the UK will also be engaged in trade negotiations with the EU which will be aimed at ensuring that there is no trade tariffs on goods sent to the EU or other forms of trade barriers with the EU after the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 this year.
The US was “prepared to dedicate a lot of resources” to securing a trade deal with the UK this year, said Mnuchin after a meeting with Javid over breakfast on Saturday morning.
“We’ve said that our goal – your goal – is trying to get both of these trade agreements done this year. And I think from a US standpoint we are prepared to dedicate a lot of resources. If the UK and US have very similar economies with a big focus on services, and I think this will be a very important relationship,” he said.
US President Donald Trump had earlier said that the UK would “be at the top of the list” for a trade deal, Mnuchin added.
However, Mnuchin also once against criticized the proposed digital tax by the UK targeting large tech firms by terming its “discriminatory”. It was “not appropriate” and has “violations to our tax treaties and other issues” he said referring to the proposed digital tax while speaking at the gathering at Chatham House.
“So, we’re working through that and I think we have a good outcome of trying to give some room now in 2020 to continue these discussions,” Mnuchin said.
The UK plans to impose a 2 per cent tax on the revenues generated by tech companies operating search engines, social media platforms and online marketplaces form within the UK. Javid has also said this new proposed tax will be interim in nature and would be lifted after an internal agreement on how to tax tech giants such as Google and Facebook.
The US is not happy with the proposed tax because it feels that the tax unfairly targets American tech giants and earlier this week, Mnuchin had also issued a threat to impose import tariffs on cars made in the UK if the UK went ahead with the tax.
The two leaders also discussed the issue of whether or not to involve Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in the development of the 5G mobile networks in the UK.
The US has been pushing for its traditional allies, including the UK, to completely ban Huawei form participating in 5G network construction because of threat to national security posed by the equipment supplied by the company.
(Adapted form BBC.com)