Joe Biden says 'no trade deals' until he has invested in America first

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Joe Biden delivered an apparent further blow to British hopes of a quick trade deal with the US, suggesting he would concentrate on building up industries at home first.

The president-elect echoed the language of Donald Trump, saying he would put "America first".

"I want to make sure we’re going to fight like hell by investing in America first," Mr Biden said in an interview with the New York Times.

"I’m not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers."

His top priority will be getting a generous stimulus package through Congress to counter the economic impact of the pandemic.

Mr Biden mentioned energy, biotech, artificial intelligence, infrastructure and education as areas where his administration would invest heavily.

His comments were made in the context of how the US would compete with China when he is in the White House.

But they appeared to signal a further setback for a US-UK trade deal.

It followed Mr Biden's public intervention last week when he said there must be no guarded border in Ireland.

In September, he warned that the Good Friday Agreement must not become a "casualty of Brexit" and that a UK-US trade deal was dependent on that.

Mr Biden has been a strident critic of China's human rights record and indicated he will maintain a tough trade posture towards Beijing, including keeping tariffs imposed by Mr Trump.

He said: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs. I'm not going to prejudice my options."

Mr Biden said he would pursue policies targeting China's "abusive practices" such as "stealing intellectual property, dumping products and illegal subsidies to corporations".

He added: "The best China strategy, I think, is one which gets every one of our - or at least what used to be our - allies on the same page.

"It’s going to be a major priority for me in the opening weeks of my presidency to try to get us back on the same page with our allies."

On Iran, Mr Biden stood by his view that his administration would lift sanctions if Tehran returned to "strict compliance with the nuclear deal."