UK says trade partners underestimate no-deal Brexit risk

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Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox arrives at Downing Street in London, Britain, January 22, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain won’t have some free-trade deals with other countries in place by March if it leaves the European Union with no deal because current trade partners are underestimating the chance of a no-deal Brexit, Trade Secretary Liam Fox said on Wednesday.

Britain is seeking to replicate trade agreements with non-EU countries for when it leaves the EU. If it leaves with a deal, then a transitional period kicks in, keeping current trading arrangements in place until the end of 2020.

“It may not be possible to get all of (the trade deals completed) because some countries don’t yet believe that no deal is a possibility,” Fox said in an interview with the BBC in Davos.

“No deal is a genuine possibility, and they need to prepare for that, because if they don’t prepare, there could be a break, even if it’s a temporary one, in the trading relationship that we have on those countries on a preferential basis.”

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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