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WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he anticipated a “large scale” trade agreement with the United Kingdom, as Britain faces a delay to its exit from the European Union after parliament rejected the government’s Brexit deal.

Britain’s exit from the European Union, which conducts trade deals on its behalf, will see it head to the negotiating table to broker its own commerce pacts with other countries, including the United States, for the first time in decades.

“I’d like to see that whole situation with Brexit work out,” Trump told reporters at the White House ahead of a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. “We can do a very big trade deal with the UK.” Earlier on Thursday Trump had tweeted: “My Administration looks forward to negotiating a large scale Trade Deal with the United Kingdom. The potential is unlimited!” However, with a little more than two weeks before Britain is due to leave the EU, there is no firm agreement yet in place. Britain’s parliament was due to vote later on Thursday on a last-minute delay after UK lawmakers twice rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU divorce deal.

A delay could also push back US-British trade talks.

The US Trade Representative’s office has said it would launch negotiations with Britain after its planned exit from the EU on March 29. Last month, it laid out its objectives for a deal that included reduced tariff and non-tariff barriers for US industrial and agricultural goods.

British trade minister Liam Fox said Trump had shown his ambition for a trade agreement and he looked forward to sitting down at the negotiating table to strengthen the trading relationship.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019