September 23, 2019 / 9:41 PM / 3 months ago

Johnson: UK to 'roll out red carpet' to U.S. firms post Brexit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Tuesday promise to “roll out the red carpet” for American businesses with the most competitive tax rates in the hemisphere after Britain leaves the European Union.

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves after a meeting with Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in Luxembourg, September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Addressing U.S. and Canadian business leaders at a breakfast reception on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Johnson will say he plans to make Britain “the best place in the world to start, run and build a business”.

“We are going to take advantage of all the freedoms that Brexit can give. Whether that is new tax allowances for investment...or devising better regulation for the sectors in which the UK leads the world,” he will say, according to advance extracts of the speech provided by his office.

“We want a market that is open to the world. With the most competitive tax rates and the best skilled workforce in the hemisphere. And so I say to our American friends we will roll out the red carpet.”

Johnson, who has pledged to take Britain out of the EU by the end of October, is due to discuss the prospect of a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States during a meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

The United States is Britain’s second biggest trading partner after the EU. It was the biggest individual country destination for UK exports in 2018, accounting for 19 percent of all British exports, or 118.2 billion pounds ($146.90 billion), and the second biggest source of imports to Britain, worth 72 billion pounds.

“This year our country takes a giant step out into the world,” he will tell the event, which will also be attended by British companies operating in the United States.

“We do it with confidence to make Britain the best place in the world to start, run and build a business. The place you will want to be, the place you will want your business to be. And that’s why I say to everyone here come and join us.”

Johnson’s pitch could raise concern in the EU, which has voiced concern that it could be faced with a low-tax, low-regulation “Singapore on Thames” after Brexit - an economically powerful, immediate neighbor that seeks to attract investment through cutthroat competition with the bloc.

The EU has insisted on firm “level-playing field” commitments from Britain in any Brexit deal - yet to be finalised - to ensure it could not put substandard products into the bloc’s single market at dumping prices.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan in New York with additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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