London - Britain's trade minister will co-chair the first meeting of a bilateral trade forum with his US counterpart in Washington as the two sides eye a post-Brexit free-trade deal, the British government said on Monday.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will join the UK-US Trade and Investment Working Group, the British government said, with a focus on "providing certainty for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic post-Brexit." The meeting is "the start of the next chapter in our special relationship," Fox said in a statement ahead of two days of talks in Washington.
"Although it's too early to say exactly what would be covered in a potential deal, the working group is the means to ensure we get to know each other's issues and identify areas where we can work together to strengthen trade and investment ties," he said. Fox said Britain's exit from the European Union "offers an unprecedented opportunity to reshape our independent trading ambitions and build on the already strong trading relationship with our single largest trading partner - the US." After meeting Prime Minister Theresa May in Germany on the sidelines of a G20 summit earlier this month, US President Donald Trump said he expected a "very powerful" trade deal with Britain "very quickly."
As an EU member, Britain cannot conclude a bilateral trade deal with any nation until it officially leaves the bloc, which is expected in March 2019, but it can discuss potential post-Brexit deals.