Saturday, January 21, 2017

Brexit Britain's "America First" trade deal

If Brexiteers believe that Britain is in line for a great free trade deal with the US, can I just refer them to Donald Trump's inauguration speech. He made it absolutely clear, in every capital around the world, that America is first. He wants capital and wealth "returned" to America. I'm left wondering what will happen to American businesses that have invested in the UK. Are these factories to be repatriated? If Theresa May and Boris Johnson want a free trade agreement, they cannot count on US businesses being able to invest in Britain. It is simply not possible to have a free trade treaty with a protectionist nation.

Whether in or out of the EU, Britain is looking for Chinese investment in the UK. But what restrictions will Trump want to put on us in terms of our dealings with China if, as expected, he launches a trade war on the Chinese. And what happens to UK firms that have invested in the US but want to extend their investment by setting up in Mexico as well. Are they going to be threatened? After all, Trump has attacked Toyota and BMW for planning to invest in Mexico. It seems the Japanese and Germans must now operate an America First approach to investment of their yen and euros.

With Britain separated from the Single Market and divorced from the EU, there is a danger that Theresa May will grab any morsel thrown her way by the US which will then be claimed as a great free trade treaty for Brexit Britain. The reality is that a deal with protectionist, Trump-led America will be a poor replacement for what we have now with the EU. And worst of all, it will leave us shackled to Trump.

As I write this, I discover that in the last few hours, Trump's staff have already closed down the climate change and LGBT pages of the Whitehouse's website. It seems Trump is wasting no time to move the world backwards.

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