Liz Truss has said a new trade deal with the United States is unlikely in the “short to medium term”.
The prime minister is in New York for the UN General Assembly, where she will meet US President Joe Biden.
The UK government had previously promised a post-Brexit trad deal with the US by 2022.
Labour said the lack of a trade deal with the US “is costing billions in lost potential trade opportunities and holding back growth”.
Speaking ahead of her flight to the US, Ms Truss said: “There aren’t currently any negotiations taking place with the US and I don’t have an expectation that those are going to start in the short to medium term.”
In May, the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US state of Indiana.
The US is Britain’s biggest individual trading partner and accounts for £1 in every £6 of UK trade.
A deal to make it easier for the two nations to trade with each other had been a much-coveted jewel for the government’s post-Brexit crown.
But those hopes were dashed in the early months of the Joe Biden’s administration. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Trade Secretaries – first Liz Truss, then Anne-Marie Trevelyan – conceded the US had other priorities. President Biden made clear protecting US jobs came first. Resuming free trade discussions has not been on the agenda.
Instead, US-UK meetings focussed on cooperation around issues such as China and Ukraine.
Why did Liz Truss choose to raise this explicitly today? Perhaps to get in first and imply that it is the UK’s choice.
But also to signal that any threat from the US to refrain from talks unless the UK backed down on an option to dissolve the Northern Ireland Protocol would be empty.
For it is Brexit itself – a policy President Barack Obama, when Biden was his deputy, previously said would leave the UK at the back of the queue for a deal – that’s likely to have played a key role in America’s refusal to return to the negotiating table.
Labour’s shadow international trade secretary Nick Thomas Symonds said: “The admission that there is no prospect of a trade deal with the USA is terrible news for the UK economy.
“There is no doubt that the blame for this mess lies at the door of the prime minister, who tarnished the UK’s international reputation as foreign and international trade secretary.
“This is an embarrassment for Liz Truss.”
Ms Truss said she will use her speech at the UN to try and rally support for Ukraine and ending international energy dependence on Russia.
Ms Truss pledged that her government will match or exceed the £2.3bn support given to Ukraine’s “inspirational” troops over the last seven months
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded the Ukraine on 24 February only the United States has sent more military aid to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In her speech, Ms Truss will point to the recent success of Ukraine’s counter-offensives as examples of what the country can achieve with Western backing.
“Ukraine’s victories in recent weeks have been inspirational,” Ms Truss said. “Time and time again these brave people have defied the doubters and showed what they can do when given the military, economic and political support they need.”
Ms Truss’ visit to the US is her first foreign trip as prime minister.
Political activity and government business have been paused until after the Queen’s funeral, which Ms Truss attended alongside other politicians, foreign dignitaries and members of the Royal Family.
She is due to meet with world leaders, including Mr Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Ahead of her meeting with Mr Macron, Ms Truss said she wanted to have a constructive relationship with France and there were a number of issues they need to work together on.
She had previously declined to say whether Mr Macron was a “friend or foe” during the Conservative leadership contest.
Prepare for the roaring return of politics.
Families, businesses, the country face grave threats: soaring prices, crippling fuel costs, the prospect of recession.
But, with the funeral now over, the arguments resume – and the demands for action will be loud.
The prime minister is already on her first foreign trip in the job.
It will mean the returning political conversation will have a diplomatic air – in its opening few hours at least – rather than an immediately intense domestic scrappiness.
But that will be back before you know it.
Supporting Ukraine was a key policy plank of the previous UK government led by Ms Truss’s predecessor, Boris Johnson.
On a visit to Ukraine last month, Mr Johnson said the West must endure rising energy bills to help the country drive out Russia.
Return of politics
MPs will return to Parliament on Wednesday, when they can swear a new oath of alliance to King Charles III, if they wish.
Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg is expected to set out government’s energy support package for businesses, but this is yet to be confirmed.
The package was part of a plan to limit energy bill rises for businesses and all households for two years, unveiled hours before the Queen’s death was announced.
On Thursday, Heath Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Thérèse Coffey is due to make an announcement about her plan for the NHS this winter.
A mini-budget, described as a “fiscal event” to outline the government’s economic plans, will then take place on Friday.
In it, Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng is expected to deliver tax cuts promised by Ms Truss during her campaign to be Conservative Party leader.
Ms Truss has promised to use the mini Budget to undo a rise in National Insurance and cancel a planned hike in corporation tax.
She has also said she would temporarily scrap green levies on energy bills to bring down prices for consumers.