December 10, 2020
LONDON (Reuters) -Britain and the European Union still have significant differences over a Brexit trade deal so real progress needs to be made to keep talking beyond the new deadline of Sunday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Union’s chief executive gave themselves until the end of the weekend to seal a new trade pact after failing to overcome persistent rifts over a “lively” dinner of turbot on Wednesday.
“There’s still clearly some scope to keep talking but there are significant points of difference that remain,” Raab told BBC TV. “(On) Sunday, they need to take stock and decide on the future of negotiations.”
“Sunday I think is an important moment,” Raab told Sky News. “You never say never in these talks, but I think we do need to get some finality.”
Britain formally left the EU in January, but has since been in a transition period during which it remains in the EU single market and customs union, meaning that rules on trade, travel and business have stayed the same.
That ends on Dec. 31. If by then there is no agreement to protect around $1 trillion in annual trade from tariffs and quotas, businesses on both sides will suffer.
Failure to agree new rules to govern everything from trade to energy ties would snarl borders, shock financial markets and sow chaos through supply chains in a world already grappling with the economic cost of COVID-19.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout and Paul Sandle; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)
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