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Irish-American businessman says President Trump doesn't understand how US trade deals work

Frank Costello said President Trump did not understand the workings of the US government on trade issues. Picture by Matt Bohill

AN Irish-American businessman and former chief of staff to Democratic Congressman Joseph P Kennedy II has cautioned against being taken in by President Trump's claims that the UK could strike a fast trade deal with the United States.

Ahead of his arrival in Britain yesterday, the president suggested a deal could be concluded within a year.

"We could work on it much faster, we could work on it very, very quickly… I would go all-out," he told the Sunday Times.

"It would be a great, a great advantage to [the] UK…One of the advantages of Brexit is the fact that now you can deal with the No 1 country by far. We are the No 1 economy in the world by far and when [the] UK isn't prohibited from..making deals directly, the numbers they can do will be tremendous.”

But Frank Costello, a former fellow of Queen's University's Centre for Conflict Transformation who also served in the Clinton administration, said the British government needed to understand the "working of the three branches of the US government on trade issues" because Mr Trump "evidently does not".

He cited the visit to Ireland and Britain in April this year of the Congressional delegation led by Nancy Pelosi, which also included Democratic congressmen and leading Irish-Americans Richard Neal and Brendan Boyle.

Ms Pelosi, regarded as the most powerful woman in American politics, warned that a future US-UK trade deal was “just not in the cards” if there was any damage from Brexit to the 1998 agreement.

Mr Costello said a trade deal between the US and Britain would not be lawful unless it first passed the House of Representatives' Way and Means Committee.

"Speaker Pelosi firmly stressed with Representative Neal and a bi-partisan all-party US Congress delegation that the UK government should not 'even think about' submitting an trade deal that threatened to harden the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and with that to threaten the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts," he said.

"This was especially the case since the Good Friday Agrerment was achieved with the direct support and engagement of the US government in 1998 and the crucial involvement of Senator George Mitchell after years of strife death and conflict on all sides."

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