As Theresa May Courts Trump, U.K. Vows Fidelity to EU Laws

  • Hammond says U.K. can boost links with U.S. even within bloc
  • U.K. Chancellor says ‘in our DNA’ to comply with regulations

Trump Swings Trade Focus From Mexico to U.K.

The U.K. vowed to respect European Union rules barring member nations from negotiating bilateral trade agreements, even as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May prepares to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Friday in search of a quick deal.

There’s “many things we can do to reinforce our trade partnership with the U.S. while we are still inside the European Union,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond told Bloomberg Television in Brussels on Friday after a meeting of EU finance ministers. “As long as we are members - it is on our DNA, it is the way we do things in the U.K. -- we will comply fully with the rules.”

Hammond in Brussels, Jan. 27.

Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

May, who will be the first foreign leader to meet Trump in the White House, wants a deal with America to bolster exports, boost British jobs and strengthen her negotiating position as the U.K. prepares to leave the EU. European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters this week that while there’s nothing in the treaties that “prohibits you from discussing trade,” countries can’t hold official negotiations.

“We want to strengthen, not just with the U.S., but all of our partnerships with trade partners inside and outside the EU,” Hammond said.

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin on Thursday said “Mrs. May can go and see whoever she wants.”

“She is not going there to negotiate,” he said.

— With assistance by Ian Wishart, Nikos Chrysoloras, Chiara Albanese, Jonathan Stearns, Kevin Costelloe, Corina Ruhe, and Dara Doyle

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