The Trump administration has informed the Congress of its intent to negotiate separate trade agreements with Japan, the UK and the EU, days after America signed a new business deal with neighbouring Mexico and Canada, replacing the 24-year-old NAFTA.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the US would seek a trade agreement with Britain as soon as it exits the 28-member European Union in 2019.
"Under President (Donald) Trump's leadership, we will continue to expand US trade and investment by negotiating trade agreements with Japan, the EU and the United Kingdom," Lighthizer said after he sent three separate letters to the Congress.
"Today's announcement is an important milestone in that process. We are committed to concluding these negotiations with timely and substantive results for American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses," Lighthizer said.
The House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady welcomed the announcement.
"I commend President Trump for working to open up more customers in new markets for US farmers and companies. The progress that has been made to prepare for such negotiations is encouraging," he said.
"These three economies are some of our largest and most important trading partners, but they are also markets in which US farmers, manufacturers, and service providers face significant barriers," Brady said.
New, ambitious and high-standard trade agreements with each of these economies would expand US ability to sell 'made in America' products around the globe and deepen our partnership with these close trading partners and vital allies, he said.
Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Senator Ron Wyden welcomed the administration's shift to focus on additional markets where there are barriers to US exports and opportunities for made-in-America manufactured goods, agricultural products and services.
"However, the administration must take the time to tackle trade barriers comprehensively, including using this opportunity to set a high bar in areas like labor rights, environmental protection and digital trade, in ways that actually benefit American workers and businesses," he said.
US Chambers of Commerce said that it will work with the administration and Congress throughout the negotiations to ensure forthcoming discussions result in free and fair trade as well as adhere to the important objectives set forth in Trade Promotion Authority.
"We're pleased to see that the US Trade Representative is moving forward with plans to negotiate new market-opening trade agreements with Japan, the European Union and the United Kingdom. Seeking new customers in major foreign markets is critical to the success of American free enterprise," said US Chamber of Commerce executive vice president and head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant.
US goods and services trade with Japan totaled an estimated USD 283.6 billion in 2017. Exports were USD 114 billion; imports were USD 169.5 billion. The US goods and services trade deficit with Japan was USD 55.5 billion in 2017.
According to the USTR, US goods and services trade with the EU totaled nearly USD 1.1 trillion in 2016. Exports totaled USD 501 billion; Imports totaled USD 592 billion. The US goods and services trade deficit with the EU was USD 151.4 billion in 2017.
Similarly, US goods and services trade with the United Kingdom totaled an estimated USD 231.9 billion in 2017. Exports were USD 123.0 billion; imports were USD 108.9 billion. The US goods and services trade surplus with the United Kingdom was USD 14.2 billion in 2017.
On October 1, Trump declared that the US, Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA) would be a great deal for all the three countries and said the pact brings an end to the previous North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).