Britain’s all-you-can-eat approach to global trade

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government is eager to land post-Brexit trade agreements | Pool photo by Frank Augstein/Getty Images

Britain’s all-you-can-eat approach to global trade

The government has been consulting widely — but has not left much scope for trade scrutiny.


2/5/20, 8:00 PM CET

Updated 2/6/20, 7:24 AM CET

LONDON — When it comes to trade deals, Britain’s eyes might prove to be bigger than its stomach.

For the first time in more than 40 years, the U.K. will take its seat alone at the trade negotiating table — and it is immediately preparing to tuck into several meals at once.

Even before launching talks on future trade terms with the EU, Britain is already mapping out its framework for deals with countries such as the U.S., Japan, Australia and New Zealand. On Thursday, Trade Secretary Liz Truss will set out the U.K.’s negotiating approach toward the U.S. and other nations — making clear that it will protect the National Health Service as well as food and environmental standards, among other things.

This multipronged approach to trade talks raises the prospect of complex geopolitical games of triangulation.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes that Britain’s global reach will give him leverage, as the EU increasingly frets that the U.K. will become a free-wheeling Singapore on its border, closely bound to the U.S. and Asia. Brussels wants to use its trade negotiations with Britain as a way of locking the U.K. into its regulatory framework, and Johnson is out to show that there are alternative economic models on the menu.

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