May is going to China to test the waters on the one thing the EU is ‘absolutely clear’ she’s not allowed to do

Theresa May ChinaChinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hand with British Prime Minister Theresa May before their meeting at the West Lake State House on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, September 5, 2016.REUTERS/Etienne Oliveau/Pool

LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May will visit China to talk about trade links with the UK, according to a report in the Financial Times.

May told the FT in an interview: “I’m certainly going to be making a visit to China and we are looking at what timing would be appropriate.”

“We’re obviously looking at our trading relationship with China,” May said.

“I think one of the things that was interesting to people in Davos was the speech that President Xi gave and the comments he made about the importance of free trade around the world,” she said.

On Monday, senior EU figures told Britain to forget about negotiating a trade deal with the US or any other state as long as it remains a member of the 28-nation bloc.

EU’s foreign affairs commissioner Federica Mogherini said:

“It’s absolutely clear on the EU side that as long as a country is a member state of the EU, which is something the UK is at the moment, there are no negotiations bilaterally on any trade agreement with third parties. This is in the treaties and this is valid for all member states as long as they remain member states, until the very last day.

“This is in the treaties and this is valid for all member states as long as they remain member states, until the very last day.”

The trip will take place during a period of rapid change to established trading relationships across the world. On Monday, US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

The TPP deal, which would lower tariffs for 12 countries around the Pacific Rim, including Japan and Mexico but excluding China, was negotiated under the Obama administration. However, it was not ratified by Congress.

May is preparing for a trip to the US in the coming week and will be the first world leader to meet Trump since he was sworn in as president on January 20. Trade will be a key part of that meeting, with the UK pinning hopes on new deals with non-European Union countries in the wake of Brexit.

Trump has previously said he wants to put US interests at the heart of international relationships. He madethe debate over free tradeone of the central topics of his campaign after criticizing China, Mexico, and Japan. Trump argued in favor of ripping uptrade deals, said the North American Free Trade Agreement was “the worst trade deal in the history of the country,” and called TPP “a rape of our country.”

You can read the full FT story here.

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