March 17, 2020 / 4:27 PM / 13 days ago

UK says EU trade talks will not take place as planned due to coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Participants hold a British Union flag and an EU flag during a pro-EU referendum event at Parliament Square in London, Britain June 19, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Trade talks between Britain and the European Union will not take place as scheduled on Wednesday because of the coronavirus outbreak, but London expects to share its draft version of the agreement with Brussels in “the near future,” a British government spokeswoman said.

Negotiating teams were due to hold a second round of talks on agreeing a future relationship after Britain left the EU in January. But social distancing measures prompted by the rapid spread of the virus has made face-to-face talks impossible.

“In light of the latest guidance on coronavirus, we will not formally be convening negotiating work strands tomorrow in the way we did in the previous round,” the government spokeswoman said in a statement.

“We expect to share a draft FTA (free trade agreement) alongside the draft legal texts of a number of the standalone agreements in the near future still, as planned,” she said, adding that both sides were “fully committed” to the talks and were looking at alternative ways to keep them going.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by William Schomberg

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