Joe Biden: Expert discusses potential US-UK trade deal
President Biden has already set about tearing up much of his predecessor Donald Trump’s agenda just days after he was sworn into office. His election victory left some in Government concerned that Mr Johnson’s friendship with Mr Trump meant Mr Biden might be less willing to consider a trade deal with post-Brexit Britain. However, those fears have been put aside for now after Mr Biden decided to call Mr Johnson first out of all of the European leaders following his inauguration.
A Downing Street spokesperson claimed the two were looking forward to “deepening the close alliance between our nations” and to meeting one another.
They added that the leaders discussed the benefits of a “potential free trade deal” and Mr Johnson confirmed his intention “to resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible”.
Yet, the US spokesperson did not mention any trade negotiations, instead noting, “the President conveyed his intention to strengthen the special relationship between our countries and revitalise transatlantic ties” as well as noting Mr Biden’s “readiness to work closely with Prime Minister Johnson”.
Former US Deputy Ambassador to the UK, Lewis Luken even claimed that such an agreement should not be expected to happen for at least 12 months.
Speaking on the BBC’s Newcast, Mr Luken said that there was a chance for the UK to strengthen its ties with the US.
He explained: “There are a couple of opportunities here where the British Government can really say to the US, ‘Let’s work together on these issues and let us show you that we are ready to be global Britain and ready to be an important ally’.”
US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Johnson on the phone to Biden at the weekend
However, Mr Luken speculated that there was not going to be a trade deal “any time soon”.
He explained: “I don’t know how far along negotiations have got within the Biden team, but first of all he has to get his trade team on board, that will take a while.
“Then they will look at all US trade policy and think about what can be renegotiated, probably with a different focus and priorities.”
He added: “Joe Biden’s priority will be with the US.
“Every trade deal now is going to have to show that it protects American jobs, protects the American economy, manufacturing, all of that.
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“There will probably be changes to what has already been negotiated, and then they will have to finish those negotiations, and then it will have to go to Congress.
“So I would say the earliest we would probably see a US-UK trade agreement signed is at least a year from now.”
Newscast host, Adam Fleming, said: “A year? That would be quite soon, I think if that happened.”
Mr Luken said: “Well, that’s why I said at least a year.”
Even so, the BBC’s Nick Bryant also noted that there were reasons to feel positive about the future of the UK-US alliance.
He said: “Joe Biden is an internationalist, he is a multilateralist, that was a definite break with the Trump past.”
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Biden at his inauguration as US President last week
Whereas his predecessor was keen to put America-first, Mr Biden is intent on putting the US back on the global stage.
However, the new President has handpicked a lot of his advisers from the Obama administration, for which he was Vice-President.
Barack Obama and Mr Biden agreed that it would have been a mistake for the UK to leave the EU.
Back in 2016, Mr Obama said: “I think it’s fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it’s not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done.”
He added: “The UK is going to be in the back of the queue.”
Mr Biden is therefore expected to pick up a similar stance — especially as his Irish roots mean he is more likely to side with the EU.
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Biden and Obama have expressed similar views on Brexit
He has repeatedly said he did not want the Irish border to be guarded, and has pushed to maintain a soft barrier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Yet, just weeks after the transition period came to an end, Northern Ireland has already started to complain of chaos around freight into the region, due to Mr Johnson’s Northern Ireland Protocol.
The protocol was introduced to enable Northern Ireland to leave the EU with the rest of the UK, but to still follow the rules of the bloc’s single market and customs union.
This would prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, where violence has previously broken out over unionism.
A customs barrier would be placed down the Irish Sea instead, for goods between Northern Ireland and Britain.
However, the Prime Minister has maintained that the current trade issues at the Irish Sea border are teething problems.