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Boris Johnson is currently holding talks with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in a bid to inject new momentum into flagging negotiations on a post-Brexit trade deal. At the same time, the second round of US-UK trade talks have got underway and will last two weeks with around 100 negotiators on each side meeting remotely.
But former trade expert Shanker Singham said that the PM could put pressure on Brussels in a “game theory” triangle with the US and EU.
Speaking to Politico, she claimed that supply chains will “rapidly reorient” away from EU markets to other nations if Brexit talks fail.
She stressed that the EU would feel “more comfortable” about its negotiating position if the UK didn’t get a trade deal with the US.
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis said that Britain having trade talks with the US would be “very useful” for the UK to convince the EU it is no “supplicant”.
Mr Davis warned the talks could allow the EU to walk away and go elsewhere.
Mr Johnson’s high-level meeting is taking place by video conference call after the two sides agreed to an “intensified” negotiating timetable ahead of the end of the transition period.
It comes after the EU formally accepted on Friday that the UK would not seek an extension to the transition period which allows Britain continued access to the EU single market while talks continue.
Mrs Von der Leyen has been joined on the conference call by European Council president Charles Michel and president of the European Parliament David Sassoli.
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But EU officials believe that Britain threatening the EU wasn’t a good way forward because the Bloc was significantly a “more important trading partner” for the UK than the US.
The official said that the strategy to “talk up” US trade was “ideological” adding: “The reality is that the EU is still the most important trading partner.”
It was made clear that Britain relies on the EU for half it’s exports compared to just a fifth for the United States.
The officials added that there was “more to lose” from Brussels than to gain from President Trump’s administration.
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US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that the US “would bend over backwards” to help secure a trade deal with the UK.
But he stressed that this may not happen until after the UK has “ extracted itself from the EU” and “is able to negotiate freely”.
Currently, the UK and EU remain far apart on a number of issues including access to UK fisheries and the so-called “level playing field”, the extent to which Britain is required to follow EU rules and standards in return for access to the single market.
Business groups have become alarmed at the prospect that Britain will be unable to reach an agreement.
They warn that firms reeling from the impact of the coronavirus lockdown are ill-prepared to with a major upheaval in trading arrangements with the UK’s biggest trading partner.
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