Blog: Hopes for Brexit US trade deal fade after Rishi Sunak meeting with Joe Biden – The Independent

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Rishi Sunak has signalled that the UK has given up on signing a trade deal with the US before the next general election.

Asked whether the agreement would materialise the prime minister said there were “lots of different ways” the US and UK could cooperate on trade.

And he said his approach would be one “where we don’t sacrifice quality for speed” – hinting at further delays.

Boris Johnson had pledged to secure such an agreement by the end of 2022 but there has been little movement on the issue.

Speaking to reporters at a G20 meeting in Bali Mr Sunak said he did not raise the hoped-for deal with Mr Biden when the pair met at the summit.

“On trade we had actually a very good conversation with President Biden on a range of things. We didn’t discuss a trade deal in particular, but we did discuss our economic partnership,” he said.

“Both of us acknowledged the fact that actually the United States is our single largest trading partner and there’s a range of economic cooperation that is happening and can continue to happen in the future.”

He said he was “filled with optimism about our ability to do more trade with the US”, adding: “That can happen in lots of different ways and you’ll see that over the coming months and years I’m sure.”

A US trade deal was vaunted as one of the benefits of Brexit, though the government’s own projections suggested it would boost the UK’s economy by just 0.16 per cent over the next 15 years.

Progress on achieving the agreement has been slow, with criticism in Britain of US food standards – which would play a major part in any accord.

The news comes after a former cabinet minister criticised the UK’s deal with Australia and said it was of little benefit.

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George Eustice, formerly the environment secretary, had played a role in negotiating that agreement. He told the Commons this week that the treaty was “not actually a very good deal for the UK”.

Overall the UK “gave away far too much for far too little in return”, he added.

Mr Eustice’s criticisms of the Australia agreement, which the government admits will shrink the UK’s own farming sector, reflects similar concerns about a US trade deal.

Political hurdles have also been erected to an agreement with the United States, following Donald Trump’s loss of the presidency to Joe Biden.

Mr Biden has supported the EU’s position on the Brexit Northern Ireland border issue and has linked talks to the UK rescinding threats to overwrite parts of the withdrawal agreement.

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