Quick trade deal with Trump would be a "non-starter" says nobel prize-winning economist

PUBLISHED: 12:44 01 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:44 01 December 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May with US President Donald Trump (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

British Prime Minister Theresa May with US President Donald Trump (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

2017 Getty Images

It would be a "waste of time" for the UK to try to seek a trade deal with the US under President Trump, a nobel Prize-winning economist has warned.

Joseph Stiglitz said Mr Trump had “thrown a hand grenade” into international trade relationships by putting the future of the North American Nafta free trade deal in doubt and saying he will renegotiate World Trade Organisation rules.

The Columbia University professor warned that there was a “real risk” in the medium term of the country becoming less attractive for companies to do business in.

Prof Stiglitz was asked by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether Britain was right to place its hopes in a swift trade deal with the Trump administration following its expected withdrawal from the EU in 2019.

He replied: “No, I think it would probably be a waste of time to begin negotiations with him.

“If you look at what he has been putting forward as a negotiating position in the Nafta discussions, you get a feeling of how much of a waste of a time it would be.

“He’s proposed that Nafta be a five-year agreement. Businesses can’t move forward with the confidence that there’s going to be another agreement in another five years. It is so absurd even the business community have come down and said this is a non-starter.”

Prof Stiglitz said Mr Trump indulged in “braggadocio” about his skill as a negotiator, but that Britain should bear in mind the likelihood of him being able to win support in Congress for any deal which he strikes, particularly if the Democrats take control on Capitol Hill in 2018 or 2020.

“Given the hurdles that the UK has in negotiating with the EU, it would be just a waste of time for you to use your scarce resources to try to have a trade deal with the United States,” he added.

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