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EU chief says UK trade pact closer but success not certain

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Britain and the European Union have moved closer to sealing a new trade deal but it was still unclear if they would succeed, the bloc’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

Britain and the EU are in the final stretch of talks to keep an estimated one trillion dollars of annual trade free of tariffs and quotas beyond Dec. 31, when the United Kingdom finally transitions out of the world’s largest trading bloc.

With just over two weeks left, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hoped the EU would “see sense” and agree a deal that respected Britain’s sovereignty, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the bloc favoured agreement.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament: “I cannot tell you whether there will be a deal or not. But I can tell you that there is a path to an agreement now. The path may be very narrow but it is there.”

Her relatively upbeat comments on the long-running Brexit crisis helped nudge sterling upwards on currency markets. However, von der Leyen also said two issues were still unsolved.

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