UK-U.S. Trade Talks Postponed Because of Coronavirus: Report

US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hold a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York, September 24, 2019, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

Negotiations for a free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a British government source speaking to The Telegraph.

Insiders told the newspaper that a delegation of politicians and trade officials was supposed to fly out to Washington, D.C, for the week beginning March 23rd for negotiations set to take place over several days. However, the trip, led by international trade secretary Liz Truss, was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The British and Americans are said to eager to begin negotiations, but no date for restarting them has reportedly been set. Instead, options such as video conferencing are being explored.

“Both sides are keen to ensure trade talks between the UK and U.S. progress asap. Free trade is integral to global recovery from this crisis,” the UK government source told The Telegraph.

President Donald J Trump, who as a presidential candidate in 2016 supported the UK’s bid to leave the EU, had told both former Prime Minister Theresa May and current premier Boris Johnson that the U.S. will strike a “massive new Trade Deal” after the UK left the European Union.

He said following Prime Minister Johnson winning re-election in December: “This deal has the potential to be far bigger and more lucrative than any deal that could be made with the EU.”

A friend of Mr Johnson and ally of the United Kingdom, President Trump has recently extended messages of support to the prime minister, who contracted coronavirus last month.

After Prime Minister Johnson was admitted to intensive care on Monday when his symptoms worsened, President Trump said: “I want to send best wishes to a very good friend of mine, and a friend to our nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. We are very saddened to hear that he was taken into intensive care this afternoon.

“Americans are all praying for his recovery — he’s been a really good friend and something very special: strong, resolute, doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up.”

On Thursday when the prime minister was moved out of ICU, the President expressed his happiness at his friend’s recovering, tweeting: “Great News: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just been moved out of Intensive Care. Get well Boris!!!”

British trade secretary Liz Truss and her U.S. equivalent Bob Leithauser have, according to The Telegraph, spoke since both countries went into emergency measures. The newspaper reports that Ms Truss is hoping to begin negotiations as soon as possible.

In-person trade talks with the EU were also cancelled indefinitely. However, both the EU’s negotiator Michel Barner and Britain’s David Frost have said that next week they will confirm future dates in April and May for virtual negotiations.

Despite calls from Europhiles, leftists, and Members of the European Parliament, the British government has said this week that it is sticking by the December 31st, 2020, transition period deadline by which the UK will leave the EU’s institutions entirely, with or without an EU trade deal.

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