Britain to hire foreign trade negotiators after Brexit, says Hammond

Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, leaves after a cabinet meeting in Downing Street in central London, Britain June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will look to hire foreign trade negotiators to help it meet the challenge of striking new trade deals with countries in Europe and beyond after last month’s shock decision to leave the European Union, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said.

“I don’t think we can only recruit people who are British,” Hammond told BBC television on Monday. “If we can find Australians, Americans who have got high-level skills in trade negotiation, let’s recruit them as well.”

He also said the government was taking steps to rehire former civil servants who have trade negotiating skills. Currently only a few of the 55 British officials in the European Commission’s trade department actually work on trade deals.

Britain faces the task of renegotiating its relationship with the EU after voters decided on June 23 to leave the bloc. It also has to rework its trade ties with more than 50 other nations around the world which have agreements with the EU.

The European Commission negotiates trade deals on behalf of the EU member states meaning Britain has not had its own dedicated team of trade negotiators since it joined the bloc in 1973.

Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Michael Holden