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US offers UK quick sector-by-sector post-Brexit trade deals

Robert Hutton, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Bolton's offer to "carve out" areas where Britain and America could negotiate trade deals "very quickly" is designed to boost Johnson's argument that Britain could see benefits from a no-deal Brexit. Bolton rejected the idea that trade talks would take years.

In a direct rebuke to former President Barack Obama, who in 2016 warned that Britain outside the EU would find itself at the "back of the queue" for a U.S. trade deal, Bolton said: "To be clear, in the Trump administration, Britain is at the front of the trade queue -- or 'line,' as we say."

Asked which sectors he had in mind for fast deals, Bolton cited manufacturing, including carmakers. He said there was a potential "enormous benefit" from a financial services deal, but that this was "complex," and so might not be the first on the list.

Despite the warmth of Bolton's words, he acknowledged he wasn't fully familiar with the details of the trade issues. He said that despite getting a friend to explain Britain's concerns about including its state-run National Health Service in trade talks, he didn't understand them. And he brushed aside warnings that a no-deal Brexit might put Northern Ireland's peace agreement in danger.

A British official familiar with the U.K.'s security position, who declined to be identified, also questioned Bolton's assertion that Britain was reexamining its policy toward Huawei from first principles.

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