Friday

18th Jan 2019

US and Japan warn UK on EU trade

  • Tusk arriving at the G20 summit (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The US and Japan have warned the UK that trade relations with the EU are more important to them than those with Britain in the context of Brexit.

US president Barack Obama spoke at a press conference with British prime minister Theresa May at the start of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, on Sunday (4 September).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

He said “we are going to do everything we can to make sure the consequences of the decision [Brexit] don’t end up unravelling what is already a very strong and robust economic relationship” with the UK.

But he said that his main priority would be to conclude a free-trade pact, the TTIP, with Europe.

He said it “would not make sense” for the US to start bilateral talks with the UK if that would imperil the EU deal.

“The first task is figuring out what Brexit means with respect to Europe. And our first task is making sure we go forward on TTIP negotiations in which we have already invested a lot of time and effort”, he said.

Japan issued its warning in a 15-page memo on UK trade published on its foreign ministry website.

“Japanese businesses with their European headquarters in the UK may decide to transfer their head-office function to continental Europe if EU laws cease to be applicable in the UK after its withdrawal”, it said.

It noted that about half of Japanese firms that are active in the EU, such as carmakers Nissan and Mitsubishi, or financial firm Nomura, had chosen the UK as a “gateway to Europe”, adding: “We strongly request that the UK will consider this fact seriously and respond in a responsible manner to minimise any harmful effects on these businesses.”

Difficult times

May, the British PM, said alongside Obama: “As we forge a new global role for the UK, we can and will seize the opportunities that Brexit presents, and make a success of it”.

She told reporters on the flight to Hangzhou that “the reaction of the [British] economy has been better than some had predicted post the referendum”.

But she added: “I won’t pretend it is all going to be plain sailing. There will be some difficult times ahead”.

She also said that one idea on future EU relations - to let in EU migrants on an Australia-type points-based system - might not work. "There is no single silver bullet that is the answer in terms of dealing with immigration", she said,

Speaking earlier on Sunday in a BBC interview, she said the UK could not in future allow free movement of EU workers, but still wanted access to the single market.

She said British voters did not want "free movement to continue in the way that it has done in the past”, but they did “want to see the [EU] job opportunities, to see the economic opportunities, and so getting a good deal in trading goods and services is also obviously important for us”.

She said EU workers already living in the UK could stay there if EU states also let British expats stay in place.

She repeated that she would not trigger the so-called article 50 process of leaving the EU this year, but also said that it would not be “kicked into the long grass”.

Brutal

For their part, the EU’s two top officials, European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Council chief Donald Tusk, on Sunday also warned Britain that they would put EU interests first in future talks.

Juncker said in Hangzhou that his views on the UK are “not inspired by any kind of revenge”, but he said that “if you want to have free access to the internal market, you have to respect the basic rules, and those rules include freedom of movement”.

Tusk said: “We need to protect the interests of those members of the EU that want to stay, not the one that wants to leave”.

“It may sound brutal, but it must be obvious to all of us”, he added.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Brexiteers still hunting for a strategy

Ten weeks after British voters decided to leave the EU, the government has still no idea what to do, but at least Labour has finally found a position.

EU and Japan closing in on trade deal

[Updated] The EU and Japan edge closer to securing a free trade deal on Thursday, ahead of the G20 summit at the end of the week where US protectionism will be an issue.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Opinion

Lost in Brexit chaos - abortion rights in Northern Ireland

Labour MP Diana Johnson has brought a private members bill to Westminster that proposes to decriminalise abortion in the whole of the UK, which means that, if successfully passed, current provisions for Northern Ireland will also be repealed.

May on whistle-stop EU tour to seek new backstop pledges

The British prime minister dramatically delayed a parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal at the last minute, as she faced defeat. Theresa May will now speed-tour EU capitals to try to secure further political guarantees.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Germany led way on EU human rights protection
  2. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  3. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  4. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  5. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  6. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  7. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  8. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us