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The U.K. Is Hiring Foreign Experts to Negotiate Life After Brexit

Britain now needs to put a team of trade negotiators together. Photograph by Leon Neal — AFP via Getty Images

Britain will look to hire foreign trade negotiators to help it meet the challenge of striking new trade deals with countries in Europe and beyond after last month’s shock decision to leave the European Union, foreign minister Philip Hammond said.

“I don’t think we can only recruit people who are British,” Hammond told BBC television on Monday. “If we can find Australians, Americans who have got high-level skills in trade negotiation, let’s recruit them as well.”

Already, New Zealand has held informal talks with U.K. diplomats about loaning out some of its trade negotiators, in a move that reflects the historical ties between the two–and New Zealand’s more recent experience of negotiating with China, in particular.

He also said the government was taking steps to rehire former civil servants who have trade negotiating skills. Currently only a few of the 55 British officials in the European Commission’s trade department actually work on trade deals.

Britain faces the task of renegotiating its relationship with the EU after voters decided on June 23 to leave the bloc. It also has to rework its trade ties with more than 50 other nations around the world which have agreements with the EU.

The European Commission negotiates trade deals on behalf of the EU member states meaning Britain has not had its own dedicated team of trade negotiators since it joined the bloc in 1973.