Hal Shapiro and Wendy Cutler Quoted by Bloomberg News on Trade Negotiating Skills Needed by London after Brexit

Akin Gump international trade partner Hal Shapiro was quoted in the Bloomberg News story “Know How to Strike a Trade Deal? Brexit Britain Wants You, Fast,” discussing how the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union will create “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for trade negotiators.

The article reports that the U.K. has not struck a trade deal on its own since the early 1970s, when it joined the precursor to the EU. As a result, the British government will need a team of people with relevant experience on negotiating such deals. Companies are also searching for the right people to lobby over the terms of Brexit and adapt their businesses to the country’s new trade relationships.

For those deals where negotiations are required, Shapiro, a former White House economic advisor, said “it’ll be extensive, painful, lengthy and difficult.” He added, “There’s usually no simple on-off switch and you’ll have to go through almost every category item by item,” from cheese to car parts to professional services.

To help negotiate deals, Wendy Cutler, a senior policy consultant at Akin Gump who spent nearly three decades as a negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, said the U.K. should scour the civil service and diplomatic ranks for anyone with experience working at venues like the World Trade Organization. The government, she said, could also bring back retired officials to consult as it begins the more challenging task of training a new generation of negotiators.

One caveat Cutler has for London, is that the employees of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade are among the world’s most experienced negotiators. “I can tell you from my time at the USTR,” she noted, “Commission negotiators are often the most skilled and the most daunting at the table.”