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Business chief raises alarm over 'dog-eat-dog' trade deal with the US

2 min read

The head of the UK’s biggest business group has warned that rushing into a trade deal with the US after Brexit could be counterproductive.

CBI president Paul Drechsler said there was a risk that the UK would not get a “good and fair deal” if it prioritised a quick agreement once the UK is out of the European Union.

Pro-Brexit figures made the prospect of securing a free-trade arrangement with the US a major part of their argument for leaving the EU.

Before meeting Theresa May yesterday, Donald Trump said he expected a deal to be struck “very, very quickly”.

But Mr Drechsler – whose organisation campaigned in favour of remaining in the EU – struck a note of caution about the deal.

“Of course we would welcome [it] but I think one has to recognise not every trade deal is necessarily a good and fair deal for both parties,” he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday show.

“The USA has one of the best negotiating teams in the world in terms of trade deals.

“We don’t want to walk into a bear hug [sic], and I would be wary of trying to be too fast on a trade deal. The important thing is to know what we want to achieve, what the objectives are, and what the trade-offs are.

"A trade deal is a dog-eat-dog activity; it’s not a diplomatic activity.”

David Lidington, the Justice Secretary who also backed the Remain campaign last year, also warned this morning that a free trade deal with the US would not make up for the loss of trade with the rest of the EU.

“It wouldn’t be enough on its own, no, but it would be a very good thing to have – as would trade deals with the emerging economies of Asia and Latin America,” the Conservative minister told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.  

Mr Trump yesterday said that trade would be a “very big factor” in the future relationship between the UK and US.

“We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal a very powerful deal, great for both countries and I think we will have that done very, very quickly,” he added at the G20 meeting in Hamburg. 

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