Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) have introduced a concurrent resolution expressing strong support for closer economic and commercial ties between the United States and the United Kingdom following the decision by the people of the UK to withdraw from the European Union. The resolution calls on the president to consult with the House and Senate to consider opportunities to promote further economic and commercial activity with the UK, including by way of a free trade agreement.

If adopted by Congress, the resolution would call on the president to invite the UK to begin discussions towards establishing the basis for negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement. The president would determine, in close consultations with the House and Senate, whether the negotiation of such an agreement would be likely to achieve the negotiating objectives established by the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. If those objectives are likely to be met, the U.S. would then seek to commence trade discussions with the UK as soon as appropriate.

At the same time, the resolution expresses support for enhanced economic and commercial ties with the EU through the conclusion of a high-standard Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. It also calls on the UK and the EU to work constructively to achieve a climate for trade and investment that is mutually beneficial and productive.

Brady and Hatch highlighted in a July 13 statement the special relationship between the U.S. and the UK as well as their “long tradition of working in close cooperation to support one another’s mutual interests.” The two lawmakers also signaled their intention to “move this resolution quickly.” However, in a meeting with reporters U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman was skeptical that FTA discussions with the UK could proceed prior to that country’s withdrawal from the EU. Press reports indicate that Froman has suggested the possibility of the UK eventually joining TTIP or even the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

There are a number of factors affecting when the U.S. may pursue trade talks with the UK, including the terms under which the UK defines its relationship with the EU post-Brexit. The UK must first formally notify the European Council that it intends to withdraw from the EU. Once notification occurs the UK and the EU, comprising the remaining 27 members, would have up to two years (or more, if extended) to negotiate an agreement establishing the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and its relationship with the EU thereafter.

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