UK approaches GCC on post-Brexit trade pact

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DUBAI — Britain has approached the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries on a possible trade pact after Britain leaves the European Union, the UAE economy minister said on Monday.

Such agreements can take years to negotiate, Sultan Bin Saeed Al-Mansouri said on a panel at the World Government Summit in Dubai. He gave no further details.

Britain is due to leave the EU on March 29, but it has yet to find an agreement acceptable to both Brussels and UK lawmakers, raising the prospect of a disorderly exit that could damage the world’s fifth-largest economy.

The UK was “looking forward” to a free-trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Liam Fox, the UK state secretary for international trade, said during a visit to Dubai for the summit, according to state news agency WAM.

In 2017, trade between the UAE and UK totaled 17.5 billion pounds ($22.7 billion), up 12.3 percent from 2016, according to official figures.

By 2020, the UK government wants that number to increase to about 25 billion pounds.

In London, Defense Minister Gavin Williamson said on Monday that Prime Minister Theresa May’s “Global Britain” slogan is more than a pithy phrase because the United Kingdom will be ready to flex its military muscles after it leaves the European Union.

“Since the new global great game will be played on a global playing field, we must be prepared compete for our interests and our values far, far from home,” Williamson said.

“That is why ‘Global Britain’ needs to be much more than a pithy phrase: it has to be about action, and our armed forces represent the best of ‘Global Britain’ in action,” he said.

He announced that the first mission of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier will include work in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Pacific regions, and the vessel would carry British and US F-35 jets. — Agencies


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