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By Maeve Allsup
June 29 — Another Republican in Congress is pushing the Obama administration to carve out a free trade agreement with the U.K., following that country's vote to leave the European Union.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) joined calls from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and others to have U.S. trade officials negotiate trade terms with U.K. officials once the U.K. leaves the EU.
Dent said he will introduce a nonbinding resolution calling on the Obama administration to begin working on a bilateral trade agreement with the U.K.
“The Brexit referendum, for better or for worse, is behind us,” Dent said in a media statement. “Now Congress has a responsibility and interest to work with the United Kingdom, particularly when it comes to strengthening economic ties between our two great nations.”
The resolution would establish the North Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (NATIP), a new trade partnership between the U.K. and the U.S.
“A bilateral trade agreement, the North Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, will mitigate potentially adverse economic consequences as a result of Brexit,” said Dent. “Beginning discussions for this agreement will help stabilize the current financial turmoil.”
The resolution noted the “strength and endurance” of the relationship between the two countries and said the vote to leave the European Union won't diminish that relationship.
“The Administration must begin discussions to show that the U.K. is never ‘in the back of the queue' when it comes to American interests,” Dent said.
Prior to the U.K.'s decision to exit the EU, President Barack Obama said any future U.S.-U.K. trade deals would take a backseat on the American agenda should Britain vote to leave (79 ITD, 4/25/16).
Dent said discussions for a new bilateral agreement with the U.K. wouldn't weaken U.S. commitment to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), citing the slow pace of progress on those trade talks.
NATIP would complement TTIP, Dent spokesman Shawn Millan told Bloomberg BNA June 29, and in the likely event that the U.K. leaves the European Union, it will be necessary to have a bilateral agreement in order to continue trade.
“The hope is that the introduction of NATIP would jumpstart TTIP talks,” Millan said.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has publicly opposed partnerships like TTIP and TPP, however, at a campaign event in Pennsylvania June 28 Trump expressed approval for bilateral trade agreements.
“There is no way to ‘fix' the TPP,” Trump said, “We need bilateral trade deals. We do not need to enter into another massive international agreement that ties us up and binds us down.”
Because of his support of smaller trade deals, Dent hopes Trump would support the resolution, Millan said.
Other members of the Republican party have already made the case for such talks.
“We should begin discussions with Great Britain to ease concerns so that we do have a smooth trade relationship,” Ryan told Wisconsin media June 24. “We need to emphasize that they are our indispensable ally, we have a special relationship and I think that does mean we should have a trade agreement.” Ryan indicated this agreement should parallel TTIP negotiations involving the remaining EU members (123 ITD, 6/27/16).
The U.S. should treat the U.K. Brexit vote “as an opportunity to forge a closer partnership with our historic friend and ally, including immediately starting negotiations for a targeted U.S.-U.K. free trade agreement,” Cruz said in an e-mailed statement.
July 1 is the earliest date the resolution will be presented to the House, Millan told Bloomberg BNA. Dent is gathering co-sponsors, a process which could go into next week, he said. Although it is too early to know how House Democrats will respond, Millan said he believes it will get bipartisan support.
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