Britain Prefers the Open Atlantic Economy to the EU

Britain withdrew from the EU in the hope of a major trade deal with the US. US-Biden relations focus on Europe, not Britain. The UK is currently facing the dilemma of a secure trading partner in the absence of a strategic choice. Britain's trade coordination with the EU is less costly, but tax restrictions and political and customs disputes have made it impossible to expand UK-EU trade. How did Britain's hopes for a trade deal with the United States fail? Why will Britain not be on Biden's agenda? What is the dilemma over a secure UK business partnership? In the absence of a strategic choice, what is the inevitable option for Britain?

Britain left the European Union in the hope of concluding a free trade agreement with the United States with a green light by former US President Donald Trump. Its hopes were soon dashed. First, the current US president is focused on outsourcing foreign policy and working with his European allies to lead the world. So, in Biden’s time, the  United States will be closer to the  European Union than Britain. The United States has also entered into a strategic rivalry with China and Russia. China, meanwhile, has overtaken the United States as EU’s largest trading partner. The EU does not appear to be aligned with the United States on economic issues, and Britain is closer to the United States in this regard. So Britain is facing the dilemma of a secure partner.

British Hopes After Brexit

Contrary to the wishes of European governments, Trump persuaded Britain on Brexit, and the UK withdrew from the European Union in January 2020, changing its international role as well as the outlook for US-Britain relations.

Britain voted for Brexit with the idea of ​​an independent national trade policy and interests. Brexit led to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, hoping that relations with the United States would solve the problems and challenges of withdrawal and that it would replace the EU.

Britain believed that by diverging from EU regulations and focusing on new international trade deals, it would gain more economic benefits, especially working with the United States. But this has not happened.

Biden’s Priority Is to Repair the Transatlantic Alliance

Since deciding to leave the European Union, Britain has sought to strengthen its political and economic ties with the United States.

The Johnson government is eager to increase international trade with partners outside the EU. But under Biden, the British-American trade deal will be delayed.

Biden’s election as US president has dampened optimism about expanding trade ties with it. In his inaugural address, US President Joe Biden promised to “repair the alliance.”

The special relationship Boris Johnson speaks of will be important in terms of defence and security, but Britain will be “less useful” to the US government elsewhere.

Biden will focus on foreign policy

Biden is more interested in strengthening ties with the European Union, even if it leads to the collapse of the Anglo-American alliance. Therefore, it seems unlikely that he and his team will support the idea of ​​concluding a bilateral free trade agreement with Britain.

In fact, one of Biden’s top priorities is to repair, restore, and revive the Transatlantic Alliance, which means closer ties between Washington and Brussels.

Biden sees Paris and Berlin as hubs for what really matters to the United States in Europe. Thus, British influence in Washington under Biden, as in Obama’s time, is diminishing.

Signs of British Insignificance for the US During Biden’s Time in Office

One of Biden’s first steps on his first day in office was to remove a statue of the late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill from the Oval Office.

The Churchill statue is a sensitive issue in US-British relations, and on his first day in office, Biden dealt a major blow to Britain, highlighting the small importance of London-Washington relations.

In addition, Biden opposed Brexit, calling it voluntary isolation. Biden believes that Britain will not be big on the international stage by itself.

According to him, relations between the United States and Britain will be good. But now relations with Britain are of little importance to the United States compared to the European Union.

However, the EU does not agree with the United States on issues such as how to deal with the rise of China, especially in economic matters.

EU-US Disparities

The United States is no longer the EU’s main trading partner in goods and services, and China and the EU now have the largest bilateral trade relations in the world.

So transatlantic economic relations, which have created and maintained nearly 15 million jobs in the European Union and the United States, now face a serious competitor like China.

As an Asian giant, China has surpassed the United States for the first time as a major European trading partner. The two reached a new investment deal in December before Biden took office, aimed at facilitating European company operations in China.

The latest statistics show that China now plays a greater role in Europe’s economic performance and the European Union appears ready to strengthen economic ties with China.

According to published statistics, EU exports to China grew by 2.2% last year and imports by 5.6%. Exports to the United States fell by 8.2% and imports by 13.2%.

One poll found that while only 14% of Germans consider the United States a “trusted partner,” 36% and 43% consider Russia and China more trustworthy, respectively.

Given China’s importance in European trade, this poses a dilemma for the EU: the choice of trading with China and helping the United States on the technology front. In fact, a balance between the two will hinder the future growth of the European Union.

China is currently the EU’s first trading partner and at this level is reluctant to coordinate with the United States on how to deal with the country, because there is no other way but to work with China as a global partner.

However, the United States is the EU’s most important strategic partner worldwide. They will make serious efforts to meet the security challenges of China’s rise and transnational security crimes (such as cybercrime), especially during the Biden era.

The Dilemma of British Participation in Trade

Britain’s refusal to implement the agreement with the EU has raised many doubts about whether the EU can trust Britain as a reliable partner. The European Union, therefore, considers Britain an awkward partner.

The prime minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, called unrestricted trade one of the most important benefits of Brexit and described its great reward as great trade with the United States.

On the other hand, Biden’s priority is to restore the alliance across the Atlantic. The importance of the European Union to the United States has left no choice for Britain. So, Britain faces strategic algebra in trade with Europe and the United States.

British Strategic Algebra

Britain was trying to reach a trade agreement with the United States, which was a deviation from nationalism. Britain has no better option than to go to the EU despite Brexit. Britain should consider the European Union as its main, reliable partner.

Although turning to the EU will not be free, it will cost less than turning to the United States.

Even though Joe Biden’s presence in the White House will bring Britain closer to working with the EU, Brexit and the non-implementation of trade agreements with the EU will slow things down in Britain. However, if Britain can win the trust of the European Union in a free trade agreement, it will be a more reliable partner for Britain than the United States. In fact, Britain is in an inevitable position and needs to work more closely with the EU in the first few years after Brexit. But it will have fewer gains than the pre-Brexit era.

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