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USTR: UK-US Trade Talks Impossible Until Brexit Sorted

Until the United Kingdom figures out what its post-Brexit relationship with the European Union will be, talks about a trade deal with the United States will be pretty much futile.

Speaking to academics and trade diplomats at Geneva’s Graduate Institute Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said it’s “impossible” to have a serious conversation about any trade deals before the country secedes from the EU.

The U.K. first needs to determine—and the U.S. will want to know—whether it will be part of the customs union, whether it will be a single market, which areas it has sovereignty over and if it has any sovereignty over tariffs and regulation.

“Until those sorts of questions are further clarified, it’s hard to have a serious conversation about what the nature of what a future U.S.-UK trade relationship might look like,” Reuters reported Froman as saying.

When asked, Froman declined to offer any advice for Britain’s trade minister Liam Fox and did not comment on what effect a potential President Trump would have on U.S. trade relations.

Leaders involved in trade relations from the EU nations have expressed doubts about even being able to settle Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that the U.S. has been negotiating with the EU, before President Obama leaves office. Experts on the U.S. side—though hopeful about getting the deal as far as they can before the administration change—have said the two sides still aren’t in agreement over major points like market access rules and regulatory environments.

And there may not even be another round of TTIP talks before Obama passes the torch anyway.

“It hasn’t quite been decided whether there should be a further round,” World Trade Online reported EU ambassador to the U.S. David O’Sullivan as telling reporters Monday. O’Sullivan said there were further advancements in the latest round of talks, but time is quickly running out.