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Liz Truss Pessimistic on UK-US Trade Deal in the Near Future

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(Bloomberg) — A trade deal between the UK and the US is unlikely in the short to medium term, Liz Truss said as she touched down in New York on her debut foreign trip as British prime minister, adding that she will focus on alliances elsewhere.

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A trade accord with the US was once the great hope of the UK’s post-Brexit export policy, but her comments demonstrate the resignation of British politicians over Washington’s reluctance to open formal negotiations. 

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Truss spoke to reporters on the flight to the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, where she will put support for Ukraine at the center of her foreign policy speech and meetings.

“There aren’t currently any negotiations taking place with the US and I don’t have an expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term,” Truss said late Monday. Instead, Britain is focused on securing entry to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Gulf Cooperation Council alliance and a direct trade deal with India, she said. 

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The prime minister declined to define what she meant by the time frame.

The Gulf Cooperation Council numbers Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates among its members and is the European Union’s sixth largest export market. The CPTPP grouping includes Australia, Canada and Japan among others and is one of the world’s largest trading blocs.

Instead of pressing her country’s case for a trade deal, Truss said a planned meeting with President Joe Biden on Wednesday would focus on global security, dealing “with Russian aggression and ensuring that Ukraine prevails and that Putin doesn’t have success in Ukraine.”

Observers will be waiting to see if Biden uses the meeting to raise the thorny, unresolved issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol. In the US — with its large Irish diaspora and many politicians, including the president, of Irish heritage — support for the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the peace accord for Northern Ireland, runs deep.

Truss also adopted a more diplomatic tone about Britain’s relationship with France than during the Conservative Party leadership race when she said the “jury’s out” over whether President Emmanuel Macron is a “friend or foe.”

But following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Macron went out of his way to stress the longstanding ties between the two nations and attended the queen’s funeral in London on Monday. Truss told reporters she wants a “constructive” relationship with France before her meeting with him, scheduled for Tuesday.



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