The UK will fully abide by European Union rules on trade talks, Chancellor Philip Hammond has said amid concerns about efforts to seek a deal with Donald Trump’s administration.
Mr Hammond said while the UK was still part of the European bloc it would remain a “fully engaged” member and follow the rules which state that trade deals are the responsibility of Brussels.
Officials in Brussels have said it is possible for the UK to hold talks about prospective post-Brexit trade links but not to enter into full-blown negotiations on any deals.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to the White House for talks with Mr Trump are likely to feature discussions on trade, with the US President believed to be keen to strike a deal - in marked contrast to predecessor Barack Obama.
Arriving in Brussels for talks with EU counterparts, Mr Hammond said: “Britain remains a fully engaged member of the European Union.
“I’m here today for discussions with my finance minister colleagues; we will continue to take a full part and we will continue to abide by the rules and the regulations and the laws of the European Union for so long as we are members.
“So, of course we want to strengthen our trade ties with the very many partners we have around the world, but we are very mindful of our obligations under the treaty and we will follow them precisely.”
The European Commission’s position on what was allowed in trade talks was restated by spokesman Margaritis Schinas on Tuesday when he told reporters: “A discussion is where you express what you would like to see as part of a menu, a negotiation is where you start actually negotiating on the menu and ordering the food you want to have.”