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UK PM Presses Biden for New Trade Deal 01/24 11:27

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made clear to 
President Joe Biden on Saturday that he's eager to forge a new U.S.-U.K. trade 
deal.

   The push for a new deal came in a broad-ranging call between the two leaders 
that touched on the global response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as the 
Biden administration announcing this week that the U.S. would rejoin the Paris 
climate accord and the World Health Organization, according to a statement from 
Downing Street.

   A new trade agreement between the allies is a higher priority for Johnson 
than it is for Biden. The U.K. regained control over its national trade policy 
at the start of the month following the end of a post-Brexit transition period.

   White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the administration 
had no timeline for forging a new trade deal as Biden's attention is largely 
focused on getting the coronavirus pandemic under control and pressing Congress 
to pass the president's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan.

   Janet Yellen, Biden's Treasury secretary nominee, also signaled during her 
confirmation hearing earlier this week that Biden wasn't eager to negotiate new 
trade deals.

   "President Biden has been clear that he will not sign any new free trade 
agreements before the U.S. makes major investments in American workers and our 
infrastructure," Yellen said.

   Downing Street said Saturday that Biden and Johnson discussed "the benefits 
of a potential free trade deal between our two countries," and Johnson 
"reiterated his intention to resolve existing trade issues as soon as possible."

   The White House in its own statement said that the two leaders spoke about 
combating climate change, containing COVID-19, and ensuring global health 
security as well as shared foreign policy priorities in China, Iran and Russia. 
But the statement notably made no mention of discussion on trade.

   The call with Johnson was at least Biden's third call with a foreign 
counterpart since Friday. The president spoke with Canadian Prime Minister 
Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrs Manuel Lpez Obrador on Friday 
evening.

 
 
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