The US expects to complete a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK by the end of this year, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos, Mr Mnuchin said the deal was “an absolute priority” for President Donald Trump.
“We expect to complete that with them this year,” he added.
Mr Mnuchin also took a sideswipe at climate change activist Greta Thunberg, saying she should study economics.
In response to a question about Ms Thunberg’s call for fossil fuels to be scrapped, he said: “Is she the chief economist?”
Mr Mnuchin added: “After she goes and studies economics in college, she can come back and explain that to us.”
On the subject of the UK’s post-Brexit trade negotiations with the US and the EU, Mr Mnuchin said: “What I saw coming out was that they wanted to accomplish both these deals in 2020. That’s obviously an aggressive timetable.”
He said he could not comment on the EU talks, but he could comment on a UK-US deal.
“That’s an absolute priority of President Trump and we expect to complete that with them this year, which we think will be great for them and great for us,” he added.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, speaking at the same event, said he though a UK-US trade deal ought to be “much easier mechanically” than a UK deal with the EU.
Concerns have been raised in the UK that the NHS could have to pay billions of pounds more for drugs under such a trade deal, as the US will be seeking “full market access” for its companies’ products in the UK.
Mr Ross said: “What we think is that drugs should have similar prices wherever they are, but I don’t believe we are in any position to tell the UK what to pay for drugs.”
On Wednesday, Mr Mnuchin threatened new tariffs on UK carmakers after Chancellor Sajid Javid defied pressure to cancel a new tax on tech firms.
But Mr Javid said the UK would not back down over the tax, which will hit US firms such as Apple, Amazon and Facebook.