After Brexit, UK May Be Outside Looking in on Trade
In the current political climate in the UK and the United States, there is no great clamoring for more free-trade agreements. Nonetheless, negotiations between the U.S. and the European Union continue on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Once Britain exits the EU, where will it stand in relation to TTIP?
“TTIP seems a long ways off,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), in a telephonic press event on Brexit. “And it’s hard to see how the political environment in the United States becomes more conducive to trade or to passing free-trade agreements any time soon.
“But putting that aside,” Haass continued, “one of the stark realities is that if we do get to TTIP at some point, Britain will be outside that.”
The U.S. and the UK could always enter into a bilateral agreement that mirrors TTIP. “And that, I would think, complicates it,” said Haass. “At a minimum, it would delay the British entry into something comparable or parallel, but it might also preclude it in some areas because this is going to be a U.S.-EU negotiation. It’s hard to see how [Brexit] could be anything but something of an obstacle to the inclusion of the UK in any sort of transatlantic trade arrangement.”
The future of the U.S.-UK trading arrangement could also depend on what the UK eventually works out with the EU. “We don’t know whether the UK will try to get a Norway-type deal or some other variant,” said Sebastian Mallaby, an international economics expert at CFR.
Norway is not a member of the EU but it is closely associated through its membership in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), making the country a part of the European Economic Area (EEA).
“And until we know that,” Mallaby continued, “how can the negotiators of TTIP figure out what the technical workaround would be to get Britain kind of joined into a bilateral deal between the EU and the U.S.? And I’m sure that the U.S. might be politically open to including Britain, but how you do it is impossible to say when you don’t even know what the trading relationship is between Britain and Europe.”