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United Kingdom could join Pacific free-trade group after Brexit, government says

12 January 2018

According to Britain's Financial Times, Mr Fox is developing a proposal to join the TPP to open up post-Brexit trade opportunities.

The Financial Times reported that informal talks had already been held.

Following the departure of the United States, the TPP bloc is working on a revised trade deal, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is expected to be agreed early this year.

Liam Fox's department for global trade is reported to be keen to commit to the group, despite it suffering a blow past year when the United States, its largest member, withdrew on the orders of President Donald Trump.

"Trade unions around the world have opposed this deal because it allows labour abuses, it puts public services at risk and it gives too much control to corporations", she said of a trading pact that has lost the support of the U.S. but still includes 11 potential members including Australia, Japan and Mexico. It quoted a junior trade minister saying there was no geographical restriction on the deal. "Nothing is excluded in all of this", he said. "With these kinds of plurilateral relationships, there doesn't have to be any geographical restriction".

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Talks with New Zealand began as early as November, when Britain's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox held meetings in Wellington with Trade Minister David Parker.

The administration of British Prime Minister Theresa May hopes to conclude free trade agreements with many countries quickly after her country's exit from the European Union, set for March 2019.

"We don't know what the success of the TPP is going to yet look like, because it isn't yet negotiated". It is similar to the EU's single market with unified trading terms. Meanwhile, Germany alone accounts for 11%. "It's a great thing for the American worker".

But critics suggested the idea of joining TPP was a distraction from the problems Britain faces when it leaves the EU.

Lib Dem Tim Farron said: "This plan smacks of desperation". These people want us to leave a market on our doorstep and join a different, smaller one on the other side of the world. "It's all pie in the sky thinking".

United Kingdom could join Pacific free-trade group after Brexit, government says