UK-US trade deal likely years away as Biden shifts focus


Photographer: Oliver Contreras / Sipa / Bloomberg

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The UK and the US are unlikely to be ready to reach a trade deal before 2023, in a blow to Britain’s hopes of a quick Brexit victory, according to people familiar with the matter.

President Joe Biden’s administration is focused on other priorities, such as China and investing in national programs to boost the US economy, and its legal power to accelerate a trade deal through Congress expires July 1.

According to a person familiar with the UK-US talks, that power is unlikely to be renewed before at least 2023, because midterm elections in 2022 will make trade legislation too politically sensitive. to be approved.

In London, the government has spoken optimistically in public about the prospects for a US deal, but officials are now downplaying the chances of imminent progress.

UK talks trade deal with US, despite omission of White House call

“The UK has always been clear that securing a comprehensive and mutually beneficial agreement is more important than reaching an agreement on a fixed date,” said a spokesman for the UK government’s Department for International Trade. The office of the United States Trade Representative declined to comment.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with Biden on Friday, but the official British reading of the call did not mention trade talks.

The slowdown will be disappointing for Johnson and his allies, who had been eager to push for a quick deal as an early sign of the UK’s success as a global trading nation, recently freed from the constraints of European Union membership.

Politically, the long wait for a deal also risks increasing the impression that Biden is staying away from Johnson’s UK, in contrast to Donald Trump, who publicly defended fast-track trade talks and was an enthusiastic supporter of the Brexit.

Irish history

Biden has criticized the UK’s handling of its withdrawal from the EU and is open to talking about his Irish ancestry. That refocused on Thursday, when the president referred to his great-grandfather, who fled Ireland in a so-called coffin ship “because of what the British had been doing.”

While Britain’s secretary for international trade, Liz Truss, has said that most of a trade text has been agreed with the US, the most controversial elements of a deal, such as access to US agricultural products such as the Chlorine-washed chicken or hormone-treated meat have yet to be traded.

Truss and new U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai held their first talks this week, a high-level call that focused on topics such as the coronavirus pandemic, World Trade Organization reform and dispute resolution. long-standing on illegal aid to Airbus SE and Boeing Co.

The UK International Trade Department spokesman said Truss and Tai would have “more discussions on the trade deal negotiations” after Tai considered the progress of the talks so far.

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