The United Kingdom's (U.K.) Trade Secretary Liam Fox said Wednesday that the United States is first in line for free trade deal negotiations once the nation completes its withdrawal from the European Union (EU).
Fox announced that the U.K. would pursue post-Brexit trade negotiations with the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and seek entry into the 11-nation Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
"The United States is the U.K.’s single largest trading partner and foreign investor, accounting for over $131 billion worth of U.K. annual exports," Fox said during a speech at the Federation of Small Business.
During his first month in office, Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping agreement with 11 other nations around the Pacific Rim.
Fox said that once the U.K. and the EU reach an agreement, the U.K. can launch new trade negotiations.
"For the first time in over 40 years we will be able to determine who we trade with, and on what terms," Fox said about leaving the EU.
There is uncertainty hanging over when the U.K. might successfully withdraw from the EU.
Fox said the U.K. "is very keen to further our already excellent trade and investment relationship" with the United States, saying that "I look forward to continuing these discussions during my visit to Washington next week."
British Prime Minister Theresa May has been trying to appease various factions in Parliament — those who want a hard exit and those who want a gentler departure to protect the economy.
President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE ramped up internal tensions last week during his swing through London, saying that May's proposals may hurt the chances that the U.S. and the U.K. can ink a trade pact.
Fox also addressed the rising level of protectionism rippling through the global economy, although he didn't specifically name Trump.
"Protectionism saps trade, disrupts supply chains and raises import costs," Fox said.
"It creates uncertainty for businesses and consumers, and sows the seeds of hostility and mistrust between nations. It is not a history we need to repeat."
Trump has made rash of trade moves in the past few months that have hit top allies, including the EU, Canada and Mexico, with hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.