Only “a few hours” remained to agree on the Brexit trade deal

The chief negotiator of the European Committees Working Group in the United Kingdom, Michel Barnier.

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LONDON – The chief European Union negotiator, Michel Barnier, has warned that time is running out between the United Kingdom and the European Union to agree on terms of trade arrangements after Brexit.

The two sides have presented conflicting messages in recent days about the possibility of agreeing to a trade deal before Britain leaves the European Union’s orbit within two weeks.

Barnier told the European Parliament in Brussels on Friday that the negotiations had reached a “moment of truth”.

“We have very little time left, just a few hours, to work through these negotiations in a meaningful way if we want the agreement to enter into force on January 1,” Barner said.

“There is an opportunity to reach an agreement, but the path to such an agreement is very narrow.”

The deal will likely guarantee duty-free trade in goods between the United Kingdom and the European Union after December 31, however Main disagreements on issues such as fisheries It has continued to spark discussions in recent weeks.

Both British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen struck pessimistic tones after a phone call Thursday evening, with Johnson hinting that a deal is unlikely unless the bloc is prepared to make concessions on fisheries. Meanwhile, von der Leyen acknowledged that the deal would be “very difficult” at this stage.

This came just a day later Von der Leyen declared that “the narrow road” The two sides came out to agree on an agreement before the deadline.

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Sterling pound, Which has been rising in recent days with growing optimism that the damaging “no deal” scenario can be avoided, fell 0.3% against the dollar during morning London trade on Friday, trading just above $ 1.3540.

Sacha Woodward

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