Sputnik | 10 April 2020
US, UK halt trade talks indefinitely due to COVID-19 pandemic – report
Until next January, the UK will be sticking to the European Union’s trade arrangements, including those with the US, but the postponement of negotiations with Brussels last month increases the likelihood of the kingdom crashing out of the EU without a trade deal in place.
The crucial UK-US trade talks have been postponed indefinitely because of the coronavirus, The Telegraph reports.
The UK delegation, led by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, was scheduled to fly to the United States in the week of 23 March.
However, that visit has been cancelled as the travel ban has rendered face-to-face government-level meetings impossible, and Truss is said to “favour beginning negotiations as soon as realistically possible.”
A group of 17 human rights groups and rural campaigners last month petitioned Truss and Prime Minister Johnson to postpone the talks since they cannot be subject to full public and parliamentary scrutiny during the pandemic.
Britain has yet to negotiate new trade agreements with the United States, its largest trading partner, and the European Union before its final break from the bloc at the year-end. They mainly concern tariffs and quotas, environmental protection and food standards, as well as animal welfare.
With the post-Brexit transition period active until 31 December, the country currently remains part of the EU’s trade agreements. Negotiations with Brussels, scheduled to begin on 17 March, have also been delayed, putting more stress on the already-tight timeframe to strike a deal. Boris Johnson, a long-time Brexit firebrand, has so far refused to extend the transition period to free up more time for the talks.