United Kingdom makes trade and investment negotiation moves for post-Brexit era

On July 8, 2016, Sajid Javid, former Business Secretary for the United Kingdom, launched preliminary talks with India on a future trade relationship between the two countries as soon as Britain formally leaves the European Union. “Following the referendum result,” Javid stated, “my absolute priority is making sure the UK has the tools it needs to continue to compete on the global stage. That is why I am in India today to launch these initial trade discussions.”

Before taking a different office within the British government on July 14, Javid expressed the British government’s intention to build its trade capacity by hiring up to 300 staff, including trade negotiators, and to visit other key trade partners, including China, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

British Trade and Investment Minister Lord Price concluded his first official trip to China and Hong Kong on July 11, where he also focused on strengthening trade and investment relationships. He said he was optimistic about the future and added that “a number of countries have already expressed interest in the idea of trade talks with the UK.”

On the same day, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne went to New York to speak with leading figures on Wall Street, and would continue in missions to China and Singapore to discuss trade and investment. In a statement, he said: “Britain may be leaving the EU, but we are not quitting the world.‎ We will continue to be a beacon for free trade.”

Canadian Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland told the media that her team has been having “technical exchanges” with the United Kingdom on the Canada–European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), indicating that Britain is seeking Canada’s advice on negotiations for a post-Brexit trade and investment agreement with the European Union. CETA is Brexit Minister David Davis’s preferred model for a post-Brexit relationship with the bloc.

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