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Britain to apply to join Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact

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    Kyodo News

London, United Kingdom   /   Sun, January 31, 2021   /   10:28 am
Britain to apply to join Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact New Zealand Prime Minister John Key ( right ), speaks to delegates at the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership ( TPP ) agreement in Auckland, New Zealand on Feb. 4. Trade ministers from 12 Pacific Rim countries including the US have ceremonially signed the free-trade deal. (SNPA via AP/David Rowland)

Britain will make a formal request to join the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade bloc, its trade ministry said Saturday.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss will speak with her counterparts from Japan and New Zealand on Monday morning, with formal talks beginning later this year, the department said.

Britain would become the first new country to join the TPP since its formation in 2018, as well as the first non-Pacific nation. The regional agreement groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

In a statement, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said applying to join the TPP showed "ambition to do business on the best terms with our friends and partners all over the world," adding that Britain wanted to be "an enthusiastic champion of global free trade."

The announcement comes one year after Britain's departure from the European Union, which enabled the government to form independent free trade agreements with other nations outside the bloc.

Britain and Japan concluded a bilateral free trade pact in October 2020 after five months of talks. The treaty entered into force on Jan. 1 this year.

China, South Korea and Thailand have also expressed interest in joining the TPP, formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership which covers about 13 percent of the world's gross domestic product.

The United States participated in negotiations and was one of the 12 original signatories to the deal until former President Donald Trump withdrew the nation in 2017 before the agreement was ratified.