Speaking from Toronto, Kirton said that Trump will likely push for immediate negotiations given that much of his reelection campaign centers on the prosperity of the US economy, particularly as the country struggles with the largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the world.
Trade Deal Huge for Trump Re-Election Hopes
"COVID-19 is a big issue for Donald Trump within half a year of his reelection campaign ... although the polls were bouncing around, the overall message is that it's looking pretty grim for him. So, he's ever more desperate to have evidence to back his pre-COVID-19 election claims that he's the one who makes America prosperous", he said.
At this stage, the UK may be the only country that the US can strike a quick deal with, which will become vital political currency heading into November's elections, Kirton stated.
"So, if you want something new in terms of economic and trade success then Britain is his only real hope. So, he's more desperate than Boris Johnson. Johnson has already got his parliamentary majority, so on the political side, I think the balance [in negotiations] may have shifted toward Britain. On the economic side they are both quite desperate for something that will revive trade, revive jobs and control inflation", he remarked.
Both the UK and the US commenced trade negotiations on Tuesday in a bid to secure a fresh agreement between the two nations after the conclusion of Brexit.
Whilst London is also engaged in talks with Brussels to establish the post-Brexit relationship between the UK and EU, old disagreements have again surfaced over future customs legislation for goods crossing the Northern Irish border, a fact that may lead London to place renewed hope on securing a quick and easy deal with Washington.
However, critics in the UK have placed repeated emphasis on the possibility of the UK having to lower environmental and consumer standards as part of any potential deal, citing concerns over lower quality foodstuffs being imported from the US market.
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, in the run-up to the December general election, consistently warned of the necessity to purchase US "chlorinated chicken", which is currently banned in the EU.
The UK's National Health Service has also yet again become a point of contention over concerns that the service would be further opened up to privatisation, a fear that was compounded following President Trump's 2019 state visit to the UK when he appeared to claim that "everything", including the NHS, would be "on the table" in trade negotiations.
Will Deal Lead to Changes?
Although the US president subsequently backtracked on his remarks, concerns remain over whether any prospective deal would indeed lead to a noticeable increase in economic gain for either party, especially in light of the financial cost of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
UK government statistics released in March indicate relatively modest returns for the country following a successful agreement, with economic growth predicted to be 0.16 percent over a period of 15 years if all tariffs were eliminated on transatlantic trade.
However, a report by the UK's Department for International Trade released in February indicates that trade between the two nations remains sizable, coming to just over 201 billion pounds ($249 billion) in 2018 alone.
UK exports to the US came to over 123 billion pounds ($152 billion) over the same period, constituting almost 19 percent of the UK's export activity. Likewise, US imports into the United Kingdom came to 78.1 billion pounds ($97 billion), with the US remaining the UK's foremost trading partner in terms of the total value of goods.
Yet the impact of the coronavirus disease, particularly on the US economy, may have changed the stakes in negotiations, especially as President Trump will face voters in November in a bid to secure himself a second term in office.
According to Kirton, President Trump's hopes for reelection rested on his capacity to deliver on the economy, with a continuation of current hardships likely ensuring serious difficulties when it came to securing a second term.
"The previous numbers gave him [Trump] a lot of support on the inclusiveness if the not the overall, growth rate ... the employment numbers were spectacular as of January into February", he said.
Trump based his previous campaign on improving America's trade status with overseas partners as part of his "America First" strategy. The nation's burgeoning unemployment rate – now at around 33 million – could prove an electoral obstacle for the president now witnessing an apparent undoing of previous successes.
"But now with COVID-19, the unemployment numbers show well over 30 million. So, as you get on towards November and Americans go to the polls ... if Trump has not made America great or turned the tide then all his old slogans are just not going to work", Kirton remarked.
The UK and the US have the two highest COVID-19 death tolls of any country reported since the start of the outbreak. According to the most recent figures published by the World Health Organisation on Thursday evening, 65,197 people have lost their lives in the US after contracting the disease and the UK death toll currently stands at 30,076.
US voters will head to the polls on November 3 to decide whether or not Trump will receive a second term in office.
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