Businesses in Britain and the European Union are bracing for the economic disruption of Brexit, which threatens to clog ports and disrupt trade across the English Channel on Dec. 31 if leaders do not reach a compromise to settle their future trading relationship.
But the economic breakup could have a relatively limited impact on trade with the United States, trade experts said.
Because the United States does not have a free-trade agreement with the European Union, Britain’s departure from the bloc will do little to alter its trading relationship with the United States. Following Brexit, the terms of trade between the United States and Britain will continue to be governed by the rules of the World Trade Organization, as they were before.
The direct effect on the two trade partners “should be minimal given there’s no change in tariffs,” said Christopher Rogers, a global trade and logistics analyst at Panjiva.
Still, he said, significant customs disruptions between Europe and Britain could have knock-on effects for supply chains, if, for example, it takes British businesses that are exporting to the United States longer to source components from abroad. Goods are piling up at some British ports, as trucks and rail have failed to keep up with companies trying to stockpile ahead of Brexit.
Britain’s trading terms with the United States may not get much worse, but they also appear unlikely to get better.
The two countries have been carrying out negotiations for a free-trade deal since May. But with the election of Joseph R. Biden Jr., the prospects for that agreement, which many Britons saw as a source of post-Brexit strength, have been greatly diminished.
The congressional authority that gives trade deals an easier path to approval by Congress, called trade promotion authority, is set to expire this summer, and Mr. Biden has promised not to enter into any major new trade agreements until the United States has made major investments at home.
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