U.K. Talks Up U.S. Trade Deal, Despite White House Call Omission

The U.K. brushed aside skepticism about the prospects for a trade deal with the U.S., saying the bulk of an agreement is already done and an accord would boost both countries’ economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain’s international trade secretary Liz Truss was asked in an interview on Bloomberg television about the prospects for a deal, after the White House failed to mention the subject in a read-out of a recentcall between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“We’ve agreed the majority of text in the majority of chapters,” Truss said in the interview Monday. “The important thing for me is it’s a good deal, rather than it gets done quickly.”

Signing a free-trade agreement with the U.S. has become one of the key planks of Britain’s post-Brexit strategy, as it seeks new trading relationships worldwide having left the European Union. Johnson’s office said he discussed the benefits of trade with Biden on their call last week, though a statement from the White House didn’t mention it.

Janet Yellen, Biden’s nominee for treasury secretary, also said last week that the new administration would not sign any free trade agreements until the U.S. has made major investments domestically. Truss said she will talk with Katherine Tai, Biden’s choice to be the U.S. trade representative, to discuss the time-frame for an agreement.

“It’s in both the interests of the U.S. and the U.K., as the global economy seeks to recover from coronavirus, that we’re putting our money where our mouth is and delivering more trade,” Truss said. “The United Kingdom is never going to be forced by some deadline into a deal that doesn’t suit all parts of our country.”

— With assistance by Guy Johnson, and Alix Steel

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