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Talks pledge

Brexit negotiatior Barnier ‘to prioritise UK trade deal’

Michel Barnier

Michel Barnier: confident of deal

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will make Britain’s new trade deal with the EU a priority, it has been reported.

Addressing a closed session of the European Parliament, Mr Barnier said the 11 months transition period from Britain’s planned EU exit on 31 January would normally not be enough to negotiate a trade agreement.

However, the Financial Times says Brussels will strive to have a deal in place for the end of 2020. He admitted agreement on road freight and aircraft takeoff and landing rights, could take longer than the designated period.

His pledge to prioritise the talks and seal an agreement comes as Brexit opponents continue to claim Tory leader Boris Johnson’s timetable is unrealistic.

Optimism over trade and Britain’s split from the European Union has already boosted European stocks to new peaks this month. An actual deal could fuel the rally, even as the global economy slows, according to market analysts.

China and the US are moving towards a ‘first phase deal’ and market watchers believe the risk of a hard Brexit is receding.

The London exchanges are pushing higher after record-breaking finishes for US markets overnight and positive remarks on the US economy from Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell. 

The Dow ended Tuesday’s session up 0.2% at 28,121 while the S&P 500 rose 0.22% to 3,140 and the Nasdaq climbed 0.18% to 8,648.

The Japanese Nikkei 225 was 0.28% higher on Wednesday, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was weaker, falling 0.09%.

On the currency markets, the pound is down 0.16% at $1.2845 as latest UK election polling shows the Conservative lead over Labour narrowing.



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