IMF 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 on an extension.
“I really hope that all policymakers everywhere would be thinking about” reducing uncertainty, she added.
“It is tough as it is, let’s not make it any tougher.”
The International Monetary Fund this week warned that the coronavirus pandemic is pushing the global economy into the deepest recession in a century, cutting world output by three percent this year, and cautioned that the crisis could get even worse.
British and European Union officials meanwhile 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 following a call between EU negotiator Michel Barnier and UK counterpart David Frost made no mention of postponing the end of Britain’s transition out of the bloc beyond December 31.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists there is no question of the UK remaining under EU rules after that date, while some observers have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a quick deal impossible.
The UK government was Thursday 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 percent this year in the case of a three-month lockdown, according to the government.