(Adds comments on trade discussions, financial reforms)
By David Lawder
WASHINGTON, April 21 A free trade deal between
Britain and the United States would be "relatively
straightforward" to negotiate because the two countries are
similar, high-wage economies with floating exchange rates,
British Finance Minister Philip Hammond said on Friday.
Hammond said U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and a bipartisan
congressional delegation expressed strong support for a U.S.-UK
trade deal during a visit to London earlier this week, calling
it a "high-level commitment."
"There is clearly a very strong political momentum behind
this deal, and as soon as we are able to, as soon as it's
possible within the terms of our obligations to the European
Union, we will begin preliminary discussions with the United
States," Hammond said.
Speaking to reporters at the British Embassy in Washington
during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring
meetings, Hammond said that Britain represents none of the
threats to the U.S. economy that President Donald Trump has
voiced about other trade deals such as the North American Free
"We're not a low-wage country, we're not a country with a
managed exchange rate, the Americans don't see anything about
the UK they find to dislike in trade terms. So we ought to be
able to do a bilateral trade deal relatively straightforwardly,"
Before any trade talks with Washington can happen however,
Britain must complete its negotiations for exiting the European
Union, a process that could take up to two years.
Asked about the potential for U.S. financial deregulation,
including new studies ordered by Trump of regulatory burdens
imposed by the Dodd-Frank post-crisis reform law,
Hammond said he believes these efforts may be "incremental"
steps more aimed at easing burdens on smaller banks.
"I sense that the mood is moving more towards incremental
change rather than tearing the edifice down," Hammond said of
the Dodd-Frank law. "We have no sense that the U.S. is about to
embark on something that would endanger the stability of the
international financial system or would endanger our financial
services relationships with it."
(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)