The Latest: UK says trade deals won't be ready by Brexit day
BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on Britain's withdrawal from the European Union (all times local): 3:55 p.m. The British government says trade deals with Japan, Turkey and other countries won't be in place by March 29, the day Britain is due to leave the European Union.
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has claimed the U.K. will be able to continue deals with 70 countries that it currently has as an EU member. But few have been finalized. The government said Thursday that "it remains our priority to conclude trade continuity agreements with these countries by exit day or as soon as possible thereafter."
A proposed U.K.-EU divorce agreement comes with a long transition phase so future trade arrangements can be worked out. But Britain's Parliament so far has rejected the deal. Without a withdrawal deal, British businesses will face tariffs and other barriers
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says despite constructive talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May he remains downbeat on the prospect of Britain avoiding a chaotic exit from the bloc next month.
Juncker told an European Union conference on Thursday that a no-deal Brexit "will have terrible economic and social consequences both in Britain and on the continent," adding he was doing his utmost so "the worst can be avoided."
But he said "I am not very optimistic when it comes to this issue."
Late Wednesday, May and Juncker said they held "constructive" talks at EU headquarters. They said negotiators would urgently seek a way out of the Brexit quagmire to prevent Britain from crashing out of the bloc on March 29 without a smooth transition period.
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