‘Huge opportunity’: UK to start process of joining Pacific trade pact

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'Huge opportunity': UK to start process of joining Pacific trade pact
'Huge opportunity': UK to start process of joining Pacific trade pact

The UK will move to negotiate an entry into a Pacific trade pact as soon as possible after its member nations officially agreed to allow it to start the process of joining.

Japan’s economy minister, Yasutoshi Nishimura, said he welcomed the move following an online meeting of ministers from the 11 countries in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I think there’s a big meaning to this from a strategic viewpoint of strengthening economic relations between Japan and the United Kingdom,” he said.

The International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, called membership of the trans-Pacific trade pact “a huge opportunity” for post-Brexit Britain.

“It will help shift our economic centre of gravity away from Europe towards faster-growing parts of the world, and deepen our access to massive consumer markets in the Asia-Pacific,” she added.

“We would get all the benefits of joining a high-standards free trade area, but without having to cede control of our borders, money or laws.”

The Government will now publish its outline approach, a scoping assessment and a consultation process before beginning negotiations in the coming weeks, the Department for International Trade said. It said the UK would work with Japan and the other nations in the pact to “progress negotiations as quickly as possible”.

Adding Britain to the trade pact would bring the GDP of the zone almost on par with that of the European Union, Mr Nishimura added.

“The commencement of an accession process with the United Kingdom and the potential expansion of the CPTPP will send a strong signal to our trading partners around the world,” the 11 member countries said.

Britain made a formal request to join the trade deal in February as it sought to open new avenues for post-Brexit trade and influence.

The agreement removes 95pc of tariffs between its members: Japan, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, Chile and Malaysia.

Unlike the EU, it does not aim to create a single market or a customs union and it does not seek wider political integration.

The UK and Japan signed off on a trade agreement in October last year, marking its first major post-Brexit deal on trade.

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