Wednesday 22 July 2020 7:17 am

UK abandons hope of trade deal with US by the end of year

The government has reportedly abandoned hopes of reaching a trade deal with the US by the end of the year, with officials blaming the pandemic for the lack of progress.

The Prime Minister and international trade secretary Liz Truss wanted to agree a deal before November’s American presidential election.

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But the Financial Times reports that senior government figures have concluded a deal will not be possible before November as the two sides grapple with issues like allowing US agricultural products into the UK.

“Is it going to happen this year? Basically, no,” one official told the FT.

US trade representative Robert Lighthizer has also played down the idea of any conclusive agreement before November. “That would be a very, very, very quick time. I think it’s unlikely that that happens,” he said at a recent congressional committee.

It is almost impossible unless the members [of Congress] decided they want to do something extraordinary.”

Last September UK officials told the Sun that a deal would be done by July 2020, and even in January remained confident a deal would be wrapped up by the middle of summer.

A third round of talks via online video conference next week but neither side expects much of a breakthrough. Officials have reportedly indicated that discussions had been slowed down in part due to the coronavirus pandemic, but also because of delays to Brexit.

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Yesterday, the Telegraph reported that Britain and the EU were unlikely to sign a post-Brexit trade deal, with just a few days before Boris Johnson’s July deadline.

The paper said the government assumes they will not reach a deal, although it remains possible that a “basic” agreement could be reached if the EU gives ground in the autumn.