UK PM Sunak says will not sign hasty post-Brexit trade deals

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The UK will not “sacrifice quality for speed” in agreeing post-Brexit free-trade deals, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Thursday, as he looks to ink accords with India and the United States.

The UK is keen to capitalize on Brexit to strike international deals and under Boris Johnson trumpeted a slew of agreements with countries outside the European Union.

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But former environment minister George Eustice this week said the country’s deal with Australia, struck last year by Sunak’s short-lived predecessor Liz Truss, “gave away far too much for far too little in return.”

He also said that Truss, who was trade minister at the time, had set “arbitrary targets” for concluding a deal.

Sunak told MPs on Thursday that he would only agree deals if he felt they were worthwhile, having discussed the issue with world leaders at this week's G20 summit in Bali.

“I met (Indian) Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, where we reviewed progress on our forthcoming FTA (free trade agreement),” Sunak told the House of Commons.

He said he had also discussed Britain’s accession to the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) with the prime ministers of Japan, Canada and Australia.

“When it comes to trade deals, whoever they may be with, what I won't do is sacrifice quality for speed,” Sunak said.

“It is important that we take the time to get trade deals right,” he added.

However, Sunak did say that “there was incredible excitement” among CPTPP leaders about the UK potentially joining, and that “we will continue to conclude those negotiations as quickly as possible.”

Britain formally applied to join CPTPP, whose 11 members account for 13.4 percent of global GDP, last year.

Talks are ongoing with India over a bilateral deal, although there is some dissent within the UK government about how many visas London will offer Indian nationals as part of the agreement.

But prospects of an imminent deal with the United States appear to be non-existent given the current political situation in Washington, with the UK instead focusing on deals with individual US states.

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