Biden in Belfast

US-UK trade talks won’t begin until 2025

Joe Biden speaking in Belfast

Talks on a post-Brexit trade deal between the US and the UK are not expected to resume for another two years, according to government sources.

US President Joe Biden avoided the issue during his brief visit to Northern Ireland, thereby maintaining the low priority he adopted towars bilateral talks with the UK when he took office in 2020.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who met Mr Biden in Belfast, is being forced to target smaller, sector-specific deals, or deals with individual US states instead of a comprehensive free trade pact with the UK’s biggest trading partner.

Ahead of the meeting, National Security Council Senior Director for Europe Amanda Sloat said: “I don’t anticipate that the two leaders are going to be talking about a free trade agreement on this trip.”

But she added: “We’re continually looking for ways to engage with the UK on a range of economic issues.”

She confirmed that Mr Biden has invited Mr Sunak to Washington in June, where they will discuss economic topics.

Despite failing to secure talks on a free trade pact, the PM insisted the UK’s relationship with the US is “in great shape” and described the two countries as “very close partners and allies”.

He added that he had a “very good discussion” with Mr Biden around economic investment in Northern Ireland and foreign policy issues.

“That comes on the back of a meeting I had with him last month in the US, I’m seeing him again next month at the G7 and then I’m going to Washington in June; we’re very close partners and allies, we co-operate on a range of things, whether that’s supporting Ukraine or economic security,” he said.

“I think actually the relationship is in great shape, and the President and I have lots that we’re working on together.”

Nick Thomas-Symonds, Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary, said: “The news there will be no trade talks, let alone any formal negotiations, with the US until at least 2025 is the final confirmation of the failure of the Conservatives to deliver on trade.

“In 2019, the Conservatives promised to the British people that they would secure a comprehensive free trade deal with the US by the end of 2022, yet the prospect of even starting negotiations has never seemed further away.

“It is little wonder that the OBR predicts UK exports will fall by 6.6% in 2023, a £51bn hit to the economy, undermining growth and making the cost of living crisis even worse.”

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