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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

UK-US trade deal to happen 'very quickly' following May and Trump G20 meeting

May and Trump look set to secure a post-Brexit trade deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump spoke on the phone on Tuesday night to discuss Iran. AP Photo/Evan Vucci
British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump spoke on the phone on Tuesday night to discuss Iran. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

British prime minister Theresa May said she was “optimistic” about a strong trade deal between the UK and America.

Speaking at the G20 summit in Hamburg, she said world leaders had expressed a "strong desire" to forge "ambitious new bilateral trading relationships" with Britain - including China, India, Japan and America.

Mrs May warned there was a limited to what could be arranged before Brexit. Under EU rules, unless granted by the Union, formal trade talks between Britain and other countries cannot begin until after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

US President Donald Trump has said he expects a "powerful" trade deal with the UK to be completed "very quickly".

Mrs May and Mr Trump agreed to prioritise a post-Brexit trade deal during a 50-minute one-to-one meeting, according to a UK government official. The meeting had been scheduled to last only 30 minutes.

The prime minister said the discussion was a "powerful vote of confidence" in the UK.

Mr Trump said, “ We've had tremendous talks. There is no country that could possibly be closer than our countries.”.

He added, “"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."

A senior Downing street official said “They agreed to prioritise work so a deal will be ready as soon as possible after Britain leaves the EU. They pledged to examine areas now where the two countries can deepen their trade relations. The president made clear he believed the UK would thrive outside the EU”.

The conversation did not go into any specific detail of what a trade agreement might look like, he added.

Mr Trump has accepted an invitation for a state visit to the UK. Although the no date has been confirmed, the invitation proved controversial for some of the British public.

Asked about the visit, Mrs May said: "We don't have a date yet, we are still working on a date." When Mr Trump was asked about a date, he replied, “We'll work that out.”

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