IMF Seeks Deadline Extension to Brexit Trade Deal

World Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva is pictured at center in this 2019 image from Bangladesh. (AP Photo/ Al-emrun Garjon)

LONDON (AFP) — International Monetary Fund head Kristalina Georgieva on Thursday suggested that Britain and the EU extend their deadline on striking a post-Brexit trade deal in the face of coronavirus uncertainty.

“My advice would be to seek ways in which this element of uncertainty is reduced in the interests of everybody, the UK, the EU, and the whole world,” Georgieva told the BBC when asked if she would advise an extension.

“I really hope that all policymakers everywhere would be thinking about” reducing uncertainty, she said. 

“It is tough as it is, let’s not make it any tougher.”

The IMF this week warned that the coronavirus pandemic is pushing the global economy into the deepest recession in a century, cutting world output by 3% this year, and said the crisis could get even worse.

British and European Union officials have agreed to schedule three new rounds of post-Brexit trade talks, starting next week by video conference, after the coronavirus epidemic disrupted negotiations. 

However, a joint statement after a call between EU negotiator Michel Barnier and UK counterpart David Frost made no mention of postponing Britain’s transition out of the bloc beyond Dec. 31. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists there is no question of the UK remaining under EU rules after that date, though some observers have warned that the Covid-19 pandemic has made a quick deal impossible.

The UK government on Thursday was expected to extend a nationwide lockdown for another three weeks, as the country’s coronavirus death toll approached 13,000.

The British economy could shrink by 13% this year in the case of a three-month lockdown, according to the government.

© Agence France-Presse

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