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Billy Wood

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Theresa May to seek bilateral trade deal at Trump summit

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, is to put a new trade deal with the US front and centre of her two-day visit to the White House, when she becomes the first foreign leader to meet the new US president today.

Despite concerns from within her own party about Donald Trump’s early policy moves and past controversies, the PM is to harken to the supposed ‘special relationship’ between the two countries as she looks to forge a new bilateral trade deal with the White House.

Trump has stated previously that the UK would be first in line for a new trade deal following an interview with Michael Gove last week for The Times.

As part of her visit, May will first address senior Republicans as part of their annual retreat in Philadelphia on Thursday before heading for face-to-face talks with the new President on Friday.

In her speech, May is to tell the roomful of Republicans: “The United Kingdom is by instinct and history a great, global nation that recognises its responsibilities to the world.

“And as we end our membership of the European Union – as the British people voted with determination and quiet resolve to do last year – we have the opportunity to reassert our belief in a confident, sovereign and global Britain, ready to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.

“So as we rediscover our confidence together – as you renew your nation just as we renew ours – we have the opportunity, indeed the responsibility, to renew the special relationship for this new age. We have the opportunity to lead, together, again.”

A new trade deal giving UK and US firms unfettered access to their respective economies is high on May’s agenda as the government prepares to begin exit negotiations from the European Union, while similar deals with the likes of China could also be on the cards.

However, analysts have warned that No. 10 is entering negotiations from a weak bargaining position, and that America’s relative strength and larger economy puts Trump in a much stronger position.

Adam Posen, who is president of the Peterson Institute of International Economics in Washington, said it would require a ‘transformative’ relationship with America is make up for what the UK is set to lose in trade with the EU.

Speaking to The Guardian he said: “For 70 years, since the second world war, the US, beyond very narrow intelligence-sharing, has always treated the UK as subservient, or wanted it to be subservient.”

“There’s a lot of reasons to think there will be very small upsides; I can say with very great confidence any gains made from such [a deal] will be a small fraction of what they’ll lose.”

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