- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 28, 2016

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan called on the Obama administration Tuesday to prioritize a new trade agreement with Britain, but the White House dismissed the suggestion, saying President Obama warned British voters there would be consequences for their decision to leave the European Union.

Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said the United Kingdom’s “special relationship” with the U.S. must endure last week’s vote by Britain to pull out of the European bloc.

“We need to emphasize that they are our indispensable ally, we have a special relationship, and I think that does mean we should have a trade agreement with England, with Great Britain,” Mr. Ryan said on WISN AM radio in Wisconsin. “That is something we should begin discussions with Great Britain to ease concerns so that we do have a smooth trade relationship.”

Mr. Ryan said the administration’s trade negotiations with Britain and the EU should move on parallel tracks. But the White House reiterated Mr. Obama’s warning, delivered on his visit to London in April, that the United Kingdom would go to the back of the line on trade deals as a result of the “Brexit” referendum.

“If the United States were to begin bilateral trade talks with the U.K., those talks would be starting in a different place, because we’ve already made years of progress through negotiations with the broader EU,” Mr. Earnest said. “The president discussed in some detail the value and the efficiency gains of the United States negotiating with a whole bloc of countries as opposed to just one country.”

The U.S. has been working with the EU for three years on a free trade deal known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Great Britain has been a party to those talks. But Britain won’t be included in that deal now that it’s leaving the EU.

The 13th round of TTIP negotiations took place in April in New York, and some analysts believe the Brexit vote will delay final action on an agreement for several years until the EU and U.S. know the terms of Britain’s exit.

Mr. Ryan said during an interview with WBEL AM radio in Janesville, Wisconsin, that the U.S. should put together its “own trade agreement with Great Britain.”

“I think we should make sure that our trading relationship is stable, so that our respective economies are not affected but actually improved,” he said.

But White House officials said it’s too soon after the British vote to determine if and when such negotiations might begin.

Brexit is likely to be on the agenda when Mr. Obama meets Wednesday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto — the so-called “Three Amigos” — for a summit in Ottawa, Canada. The countries are announcing plans to produce more clean power and cut methane emissions while strengthening economic ties.

“The Brexit vote has had an impact on global financial markets including financial markets here in North America,” Mr. Earnest said. “The goal of the leaders will be to further intensify our efforts to cooperate even as we see some added volatility in the global financial markets and even as we face down some other threats to our homeland security.”

All three countries have signed but not yet ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation free trade deal that Mr. Obama views as the centerpiece of his “pivot” to the Pacific Rim. The agreement faces opposition from nearly all Democrats in Congress and is opposed by presumptive presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump has vowed to rip up the TPP and renegotiate other trade deals, saying the U.S. has given up too many concessions in negotiations.

The three leaders will pledge to produce half their electricity from “clean” energy sources by 2025; currently, the U.S. generates about 32 percent of its electricity from noncarbon sources. Obama adviser Brian Deese said the goals are “ambitious” but are meant to align the energy policies of the North American neighbors.

“What you’ll see as part of the partnership as well is significantly greater harmonization between our countries in terms of harmonizing our energy efficiency standards,” Mr. Deese said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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