Michael Froman
US trade representative Michael Froman Reuters

The UK needs to sort out the nature of its post-Brexit relationship with the European Union before any meaningful British-American trade dialogue can take place, according to a senior trade envoy of the Obama administration.

Speaking at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland on Monday (17 October), US Trade Representative Michael Froman said: "The practicality is that until the UK sorts through with the EU the nature of its relationship; it's impossible to have a serious conversation about knowing what kind of trade agreement the US can have with the UK separately."

Froman said there were questions aplenty. "Will the UK be part of the customs union or not? Is it part of the single market or not? What areas does it have sovereignty over? Does it have sovereignty over tariffs? Does it have sovereignty over regulation?

"Until those sorts of questions are further clarified, it's hard to have a serious conversation about what the nature of what a future US-UK trade relationship might look like."

Froman said he had spoken to UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox and his officials periodically since Fox's appointment, but declined to offer any advice, quipping: "My sense is they are getting quite enough advice as it is."

The Obama administration official also refused to speculate how the US approach to bilateral trade relations with the UK would be impacted following the outcome of the 8 November US presidential elections, and were Donald Trump to win the presidency.