February 14, 2017


The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is a special one, built over generations upon a foundation of shared reverence for free enterprise, free markets and mutually beneficial trade.

Together, we’ve fought and won two world wars, then constructed the international institutions that have undergirded decades of peace and economic prosperity.

The US business community watched with optimism as Prime Minister Theresa May came to Washington DC to meet with the president.

That the visit came at this early point in the work of the new administration was an encouraging signal that what binds our two countries will prevail as we navigate an ever changing global landscape.

The UK is now confronting the unprecedented challenge of negotiating its exit from the European Union. Parliament has set in motion the process to enable the Prime Minister to soon get those talks under way, and with each passing day, the likely impact of the UK’s decision to leave the bloc comes into clearer focus.

Though there is still much we all have yet to learn, one thing is for certain: the outcome of the negotiations between the UK and EU matters deeply for American corporations.

The US and the UK are each other’s single-largest foreign investors. US firms have invested $600bn (£479m) in the UK – nearly a quarter of total investments in Europe – and in turn, UK companies have invested $450bn in the US.

Those investments directly support over one million high-quality, high-paying, high-skilled jobs for each country, and even more indirectly.

The decisions British leaders make in the weeks and months ahead will be consequential, and they will necessarily impact the future reach and magnitude of this close partnership.

To that end, the US business community’s message is simple. We seek outcomes that don’t disrupt operations or jeopardise our nation’s economic growth.

We believe the UK’s new relationship with the EU must be forged with appropriate heed first and foremost to issues like market access, movement of skilled labour, financial services, data policy, tax policy and reasonable transition measures.

As Mrs May and President Trump have suggested, the time may soon come for discussion of a new free trade agreement between our two countries.

A successful exit from the EU should be the first order of business for the UK, but down the road, the American business community will be eager for the opportunity to sustain and strengthen its close relationship with the UK.

Negotiating a free trade agreement at an appropriate time could be a useful means to accomplish those objectives.

It’s no secret the stakes are high for US companies, which is why the US Chamber of Commerce has launched the US-UK Business Council, an organisation that will serve as the leading Washington platform for the American business community to engage with policymakers on deepening trade and investment ties between the US and the UK.

The Council is committed to working with the UK Government, the institutions of the European Union, and other EU member state governments to ensure that American businesses’ interests are heard and taken into account as the UK and the EU reset their relationship.

As America roots for the success of both Britain and the EU, we do so with the hope that each will approach negotiations with a clear eye toward maintaining and strengthening our shared economic partnership.

Our mutual prosperity depends on it.

The relationship between the United States and United Kingdom will always be special, and as long as the right principles are upheld in the coming negotiations, we’ll have an opportunity to build upon our already strong and evermore prosperous foundation.

Myron Brilliant is the executive vice president and head of international affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce.