Tuesday, May 24

Brexit is a golden opportunity for stronger US-UK trade ties, says Osborne



The chancellor, George Osborne, will urge US investors not to turn their backs on Britain as he begins a world tour aimed at building new trade ties outside the European Union.

Osborne will meet senior figures from Wall Street in New York on Monday during the first of several missions to major economies to discuss the ramifications of Brexit on trade links.

“Britain and the US have been at the forefront of open trade in the last 200 years and pursuing a stronger relationship with our biggest trading partners is now a top priority,” the chancellor said.

Osborne hopes to use the New York visit to present the referendum vote as a “golden opportunity” for US investors to forge an even stronger relationship with Britain, the Treasury said in a statement.

The US is already the largest single destination for British goods, making up 17% of exports at a value of £88bn in 2014.

“While Britain’s decision to leave the EU clearly presents economic challenges, we now have to do everything we can to make the UK the most attractive place in the world to do business,” said Osborne.

The chancellor has already pledged to cut the corporation tax rate to 15% or lower in a bid to boost the country’s attractiveness to foreign firms. He said his “message to the world is that Britain may be leaving the EU but we are not quitting the world”.

“We will continue to be a beacon for free trade, democracy and security, more open to the world than ever.”

Osborne’s New York trip begins a gruelling schedule of trade missions, with the chancellor set to lead one to Singapore and China next week.

He will also welcome the US treasury secretary, Jack Lew, to London this week, meet the heads of Britain’s biggest banks, and travel to Brussels for discussions with other EU finance ministers.

Last week the chancellor met Chinese officials in London, including ambassador Lio Xiaming, for talks about future trade relations ahead of the G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Chengdu later this month. He also spoke to Paul Ryan, speaker of the US House of Representatives, twice last week, according to the Treasury.

The business secretary, Sajid Javid, is also making overtures to major economies about potential trade deals, travelling to India last week for preliminary talks with government officials.

The discussions kicked off a schedule of trips to the US, China, Japan and South Korea over the next few months.

The government has said it plans to hire up to 300 staff in a bid to address a shortage of trade negotiators capable of forging closer economic ties with dozens of other countries.