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UK warned to brace for long wait to agree to trade deals

The EU's top trade official says the UK must first leave the bloc before negotiations start.

Picture: Facebook.

LONDON - The United Kingdom (UK) has been warned it will take over a decade to agree trade deals with the European Union (EU).

The EU's top trade official says the UK cannot start negotiating terms for doing business with the bloc until after it has left and then those negotiations could take several years.

The messages coming out of Europe are very mixed.

Some are suggesting a trade deal could be sorted out quickly, while others fear that the UK could be punished for leaving the bloc to deter other countries and the negotiations will be long and protracted.

The EU's top trade official, Cecilia Malmstrom, says the UK must first leave the bloc before negotiations start.

That process would take two years from when the notice is formally handed in.

However, a recent trade deal with Canada took seven years to negotiate and will take a further two years to be ratified by all EU countries. So the UK could face a decade-long wait.