Congressman says hard border could put US-UK trade deal at risk

Congressman says hard border could put US-UK trade deal at risk

A US Congressman has stated that a hard border in Ireland could have a negative impact on a post-Brexit US-UK trade deal.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney is in the US as part of Ireland's campaign for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. He met with members of Congress in Washington last night, with Brexit a key topic of discussion.

Republican Congressman Pete King said at the event that a hard border in Ireland would have implications on any future trade deal between the US and UK.

He said: "I think it's important for us as Irish-Americans to make it clear, that when we deal with the British that this is very, very important to us and if the British want to consider any type of trade agreement with the United States, it's important that that soft border be maintained."

Democratic Congressman Richard Neal, who is the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told RTÉ News that he would have concerns over a hard border.

He said the US wants "a bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom" but added: "I think that I would raise the same concerns that are being raised now and that would be obviously no return to a hard border."

The Tánaiste highlighted that he is not in the US to get people to lobby against the UK.

He told RTÉ News: "We're not here in the US to lobby against the UK. We're not asking people to take sides - an Irish position or a UK position.

"What we are asking people to do though is to inform themselves and to ensure that the influence that they have and the contacts that they have are used to ensure that nothing is done to undermine a peace process.

Meanwhile, the British Prime Minister is in Brussels today for crunch talks with the EU over Brexit.

Theresa May is set to use the top level Brussels talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, Mr Tusk and other prominent EU figures to press for legally binding guarantees on the Northern Ireland backstop.

At present the backstop, which is intended to prevent the return of a hard border in Ireland, would see the UK continue to obey EU customs rules after a transition period if no wider trade deal had been reached.

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