By JAMEY KEATEN and PAN PYLAS
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May sought to reaffirm her country’s central role in world affairs on Thursday, when she delivered a speech to the World Economic Forum and met with President Donald Trump to dispel any perceptions of tensions between them.
May came to the gathering of the global elites in Davos, Switzerland, amid questions about whether Britain could lose influence on the world stage after it leaves the European Union and doubts about the strength of the relationship with the U.S.
She was one of the few world leaders to meet with Trump, apparently in an effort by both sides to solidify a relationship that has come under strain. Trump and May last year traded criticism over Trump’s tweets of a U.K. far-right group’s anti-Muslim videos and Trump canceled a trip to London for the opening of a new U.S. embassy.
After the meeting, May said the “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K. continues. Trump said he and May have a “really great relationship, although some people don’t necessarily believe that.
Earlier, in her speech, May focused on Britain’s desire to lead in technologies that will change the future.
“The message of our industrial strategy to the world is clear: Britain will be one of the best places in the world in which to start and grow a business,” she said.
She also stressed the need to do so in a manner that is fair to society.
She highlighted how modern technology giants like Google and Alibaba were changing the lives of billions of people, but that new technology is also threatening ways of life and jobs. She said government and business both need to help retrain people.
“We need to act decisively to help people benefit from global growth now,” she said.
Britain’s economy, once one of the fastest in the developed world, is now among the slowest. Some companies are worried of losing access to the EU’s single market after Brexit in March 2019.
Earlier, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the U.S. is ready to negotiate an “attractive” trade deal with Britain once the country has left the European Union.
While within the EU, the U.K. cannot negotiate separate trade deals with other countries. Mnuchin said that once the “U.K. is ready, we are prepared to negotiate an attractive trade deal.” He added that President Donald Trump has already said Britain will be at the “front of the line” in trade negotiations.
Catherine Lucey and Theodora Tongas in Davos contributed to this report.