US President Barack Obama says Britain’s decision to leave the European Union will raise concerns about long-term global growth.
Obama said on Wednesday that preparations by central banks and finance ministers, as well as the US treasury secretary, shows that the global economy “will hold steady” in the short run.
“I think there are some genuine longer-term concerns about global growth if in fact Brexit goes through and that freezes the possibilities of investment in Great Britain or in Europe as a whole,” Obama said at a joint press conference in Ottawa with the leaders of Canada and Mexico.
The US president, who had openly advocated for the UK to remain in the EU, warned that a Brexit “doesn’t help” at a time when global growth rates were already weak.
Last week, British citizens voted in a referendum to exit the European Union. The vote sent shock waves through the political and economic sectors of both the UK and Europe.
The Brexit vote led British Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his resignation. Cameron had campaigned extensively for the UK to stay in the EU.
Asked about the future of US-UK trade, Obama said Europe is now the first priority for Britain as “they trade half their goods.”
“I emphasized throughout that the special relationship with Great Britain does not change,” he added.
The US president also called on Cameron and other EU leaders to work on an orderly process for the departure of Britain.
“Everybody should catch their breath. I think that will be a difficult, challenging process, but it does not need to be a panicky process,” he added.
UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said earlier this week that Britain should agree on a deal to enjoy single market access but limit the freedom of movement of people.
EU leaders, however, strongly rejected the idea and said that Britain cannot have access to the single market as a non-member without accepting the bloc’s freedom of movement rules.