In the wake of Trump’s election, the UK finds itself in a more optimistic trading position than post-Brexit fears first suggested. This is in spite of last night's comments by President-elect Trump that Nigel Farage should act as Ambassador to the US, somewhat trivialising our 'special relationship'.
Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community on 1st January 1973, under the Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath was a flashpoint in British history and set in motion the turbulent relationship between the UK and Brussels.
43 years on, the decision by Britons to sever ties with the institution perhaps provides a great opportunity to once again initiate dialog with other Western economic powers. With formal exit talks yet to be triggered and the UK still tied to the EU, no formal trade deals can be made but ministers are still preparing the ground for when that day arrives.
Countries such as India, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia are already laying foundations for future trade deals with the UK, with New Zealand’s First party leader Winston Peters stating a trade deal with the UK is “an absolute priority”.
Additionally, the election of Donald Trump casts a promising outlook on transatlantic trade. The President-elect has made it clear he would like to renew the special relationship and advance bilateral trade with the UK, while simultaneously pausing talks with the EU.
This is in stark contrast with the Obama administration which saw the UK at ‘the back of the queue’ regarding bilateral trade post-Brexit. As Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson has described Trump’s election as an ‘opportunity’ for Britain while stating there is ‘a lot to be positive about’. With the UK exporting more than £30 billion worth of goods to the US, it is a significant market which would only benefit from a bilateral trade agreement.
The opportunities presented by North American trade do not end here. In addition to the bilateral trade proposed by Trump, the UK may see Brexit as an opportunity to advance trade with other prolific Western economies.
The trade bloc CANZUK was predicted by Churchill to be the third pillar of western civilisation in the 70s. The possible union of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK was shattered by the UK’s entry into the EEC but following Brexit, now is an opportune moment for this development. What we lack in geographical proximity has been eased with modern communication, with all three continents seeming ever closer. It is evident from examples such as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) that trading blocs such as this can prosper.
In essence, despite the pessimistic forecast following Brexit and concerns of isolation for the UK economy, recent global political developments, as well as appealing to the past, may provide the opportunity to enhance the UK’s global position on the economic stage.
Moreover, it is of this writer’s opinion that to advance trade agreements with countries more compatible with Britain than the EU states, both linguistically and culturally, would only be of benefit to the nation going forwards.
Opportunities such as those presented by Trump’s election and the re-emergence of CANZUK negotiations are exactly what the UK needs to secure itself as a key player in international economics. Despite estranging itself from the EU, the opportunities clearly show the downbeat forecast following Brexit to be an overly pessimistic view on what can be an exciting period for British trade going forwards.
Holly Turner is an Intern at the Bow Group