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Davos 2020: Quarrels, but little consensus
The World Economic Forum at Davos produced rows over climate change and trade, but little consensus.

Financial firms 'should be prepared for no deal'

Nausicaa Delfas

The UK is set to leave the European Union (EU) in nine days, which will be followed by a transition period that will end in December 2020.

But Nausicaa Delfas, head of international at the Financial Conduct Authority, is now warning financial firms that they need to be ready because there could be no trade deal with the EU by December.

"Firms still need to ensure they are prepared for a range of scenarios that may happen at the end of 2020," she said on Thursday.

More on the success of a UK-US trade deal

Faisal Islam

BBC Economics Editor

Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos

More on UK-US trade deal negotiations from the BBC's economics editor Faisal Islam:

The Trump team here also mentioned further Cabinet level discussions on the UK deployment of Chinese Huawei technology in its 5G mobile network.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross explained that there “should be far fewer issues” between the UK and the US "than there are between either of us and the EU”.

The economies are similar, he said, and there’s already a high degree of coordination in the financial services sector, so it is “much easier mechanically”.

When I asked the Trump team if this was the case a year ago, concerning raising the prices paid to US drugs companies and detaching the UK from EU food standards on pathogens - for example, chicken, Mr Ross had said: “What we think is that drugs should have similar prices wherever they are, but I don't believe we are in any position to tell the UK what to pay”.

Elsewhere, the US team were confidently asserting the success of the President's strategy of threatening trade tariffs to force negotiations, and “we are now turning our attention to Europe”.

The lesson from elsewhere is that achieving a “deal”, as defined by President Trump, is always possible, particularly if leaving tariffs at a level five or more times where they were in 2018 can be defined as so. It is difficult to see how so many thorny, politically contentious issues across so much of the UK’s trade can be settled so quickly. The will to do something is there though.

Can two trade deals be accomplished in a year?

Faisal Islam

BBC Economics Editor

US treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin
Getty Images

Key members of President Trump’s US Cabinet say that both the UK and US governments want to complete a trade deal this year.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the UK had indicated it wanted to accomplish both a deal with the EU and the US in 2020, which was “an aggressive timetable”. But he added that the US-UK trade deal alone was “an absolute priority of President Trump and we expect to complete that within this year”.

This statement on an accelerated timetable comes on the day when a key Cabinet committee is due to set the strategy for trade negotiations. One of the key debates is whether the UK should launch negotiations with the EU and the US in parallel. Yesterday here in Davos, the Chancellor said that the EU deal would be the first priority.

It seems an extraordinary suggestion that this could be done within a year, when just yesterday the Chancellor said that the UK Digital Sales Tax would fo ahead and the same member of the Trump team said countries that did this arbitrarily would face retaliatory trade tariffs on their car exports.

Developing African drugs in Ghana
Ernest Chemists in Ghana has a vision of developing locally-made drugs to treat African patients.