Boris Johnson post-Brexit plan: Woo US businesses?

A draft of the UK prime minister's UN speech suggests he will promise to 'roll out the red carpet' for American firms

    Johnson's pitch could raise concern in the EU that the UK - as an economically powerful and immediate neighbour - is seeking to attract investment through cutthroat competition with the bloc [File: Stephanie Keith/Reuters]
    Johnson's pitch could raise concern in the EU that the UK - as an economically powerful and immediate neighbour - is seeking to attract investment through cutthroat competition with the bloc [File: Stephanie Keith/Reuters]

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Tuesday promise to "roll out the red carpet" for American businesses with the most competitive tax rates in the hemisphere after the UK leaves the European Union.

    Addressing US and Canadian business leaders at a breakfast reception on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Johnson will say he plans to make the UK "the best place in the world to start, run and build a business".

    "We are going to take advantage of all the freedoms that Brexit can give. Whether that is new tax allowances for investment ... or devising better regulation for the sectors in which the UK leads the world," he will say, according to advance extracts of the speech provided by his office to Reuters.

    "We want a market that is open to the world. With the most competitive tax rates and the best-skilled workforce in the hemisphere. And so I say to our American friends, we will roll out the red carpet."

    Johnson, who has pledged to take the UK out of the EU by the end of October, is due to discuss the prospect of a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States during a meeting with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

    The US is the UK's second-biggest trading partner after the EU and was the biggest individual country destination for UK exports in 2018, accounting for 19 percent of all British exports, or 118.2 billion pounds ($146.90bn). It is also the second-biggest source of imports to the UK, worth 72 billion pounds ($89.51bn).

    "This year our country takes a giant step out into the world," he will tell the event, which will also be attended by British companies operating in the US.

    "We do it with confidence to make Britain the best place in the world to start, run and build a business. The place you will want to be, the place you will want your business to be. And that's why I say to everyone here, come and join us."

    Johnson's pitch could raise concern in the EU, which has voiced concern that it could be faced with a low-tax, low-regulation "Singapore on Thames" after Brexit - an economically powerful, immediate neighbour that seeks to attract investment through cutthroat competition with the bloc.

    The EU has insisted on firm "level-playing field" commitments from the UK in any Brexit deal - yet to be finalised - to ensure it could not put substandard products into the bloc's single market at dumping prices.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency