Trump praises work on British trade deal, says EU 'protectionist'

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised ongoing work on a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain while sharply criticizing the European Union’s trade relationship with the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump calls on Republican Senators to move forward and vote on a healthcare bill to replace the Affordable Care Act in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

“Working on major Trade Deal with the United Kingdom. Could be very big & exciting. JOBS! The E.U. is very protectionist with the U.S. STOP!” Trump wrote on Twitter without offering any other details.

Representatives for the White House and the U.S. Department of Commerce could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Republican U.S. president earlier this month assured quick action on a trade deal between the United States and Britain even as some British officials expressed skepticism.

Trump met with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Hamburg earlier this month, describing the bilateral trade deal as “a very, very big deal, a very powerful deal, great for both countries.”

A deal would follow Britain’s 2016 decision to withdraw from the European Union, a major trading bloc. The British government has since touted its ability to strike one-on-one deals with other countries.

Still, some British officials and businesses have remained skeptical that a trade deal with the United States would make up for leaving the EU.

Trump on Tuesday offered no specific actions that he wanted the EU to halt, but a series of trade issues over steel and other products have raised tensions.

The Trump administration has launched a review of the steel industry and is weighing tariffs on imports that could spark retaliatory action.

While such tariffs would primarily take aim at China, EU officials fear steel headed for the United States would instead be redirected to European nations, upending the industry there.

Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Paul Simao