In late July, the Financial Times cited an unnamed source as saying that there is no chance London will sign a trade agreement with Washington before the 3 November US presidential election or even by the end of 2020.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told The Telegraph that there are no “unsurmountable” issues related to trade talks between London and Washington, which he said are progressing well.

He added that there were no issues prompting each of the negotiating teams to say, “I’m putting down my pencil”, even though the sides are still at odds over agricultural standards pertaining to the deal after four rounds of talks.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

The secretary also warned that if Democratic nominee Joe Biden prevails in the US presidential elections, “[…] that would be a very major setback in the timing and perhaps in the substance” of the bilateral trade agreement.

London and Washington have been negotiating a separate trade deal since the start of the year, following the UK’s departure from the European Union. Britain has not concluded any bilateral trade agreements for the last 40 years while within the bloc and it has been struggling to negotiate one with its NATO partner, amid disagreements over food standards and allowing American agricultural products into the UK.

UK-US travel

Separately in the interview, Ross touched upon the current US travel ban, which, in particular, prevents British citizens from entering America amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

US President Donald Trump and First lady Melania arrive at 10 Downing Street in central London on December 3, 2019

He called on airlines to briefly test people before boarding, when asked if Britons could hope for the ban to end this year.

Tech Giants Tax

Ross also focused on the UK’s so-called “tech giants tax”, suggesting that the rules of global taxation should be agreed multilaterally rather that only target the US.

Last year, the British government revealed plans to introduce a 2% tax starting in April 2020 on the revenues of companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook, making money on UK users.

Trump-Johnson Ties

Additionally, Ross dwelt on what he described as the “excellent” relationship between President Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Ross described Trump and Johnson as individuals who are “willing to take some risks on trade”, adding that the two men also “shared this common hardship of having come down with” COVID-19.

“And there’s nothing that binds two people together more than experiencing common hardship”, the secretary noted.

In this vein, he touted Trump as a person with “a very strong constitution”, pointing to the president’s “incredible” campaign work schedule.

POTUS was discharged from the Walter Reed Medical Centre  on Monday after he announced last Friday that he and First Lady Melania Trump had caught the coronavirus. 


No ‘Unsurmountable’ Issues in UK-US Trade Talks, American Commerce Secretary Says

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