The United States is “focused” on striking a trade deal with the U.K. by the end of the year, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday.
“The U.K. is our most important relationship … it’s a very strategic relationship,” Mnuchin said in an interview at a Chatham House event, where he reiterated that the U.K. remained “top of the list” with President Donald Trump when it comes to a potential trade agreement.
Mnuchin acknowledged the U.K. may have to “resolve some issues” with the European Union first, but said he did not anticipate those to impede talks with Washington.
“A lot of issues can be dealt with simultaneously,” he said, adding that the goal was to get both trade agreements “done this year.”
Asked whether certain foreign policy issues — such as the U.K.’s decision on whether to allow the use of Huawei technology and its position on Iran — could act as “red lines” in discussions, Mnuchin said he was “quite optimistic” talks would go smoothly given the “very good relationship” between Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“There are areas where we can agree 100 percent” and areas “where we have issues,” he said, adding that trade was an area “where we’re both highly motivated.”
When it comes to Iran, “I think we have a common view,” he added.
The U.K., which officially leaves the EU on January 31, is on a tight timetable to negotiate a comprehensive deal on its future relations with the EU by the end of the year, and has said a trade deal with the U.S. is one of its top priorities.