FT: UK looking to join TPP after Brexit

Erika Holt
January 12, 2018

As for TPP, Lowe said there had also been talk of the United Kingdom joining the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) but it was all "blue-sky thinking". The US withdrew from the group past year under orders from President Donald Trump, who often rallied against global trade deals in his election campaign.

Regardless, Britain's trade with the 11 nations which make up the TPP, including Canada, Japan, Australia and Mexico, pales when compared with the EU. "Nothing is excluded in all of this", he said.

"With these kind of plurilateral relationships, there doesn't have to be any geographical restriction", Hands added.

The talks are led by Liam Fox, the worldwide trade secretary, who has travelled to China for a three-day trip to build business relations.

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Then China joined talks to join the TPP shortly after the USA dropped out, and has been working with other potential member nations on a restyled version of the deal.

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The pact is being renegotiated after President Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out shortly after his inauguration in January 2017, and is now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.

But full negotiations on Britain's possible participation in the TPP are unlikely to start until the country concludes its trade talks with the EU.

TPP is also on a shaky footing after the USA withdrawal. The agreement was designed so that it could eventually create a new single market - not dissimilar to the EU. People only got an idea of how the extensive trade deal would affect lives when a draft copy was leaked by WikiLeaks and triggered worldwide protests. The US accounted for 65% of the total GDP of the original TPP members. "It's a great thing for the American worker". "Of course [TPP] could be helpful but it is not the main event, and at the moment the government is making a hash of that", said Barry Gardiner, the shadow trade secretary.

Lib Dem Tim Farron said: "This plan smacks of desperation".

Creasy, a leading supporter of the pro-single market campaign Open Britain, said: "The Prime Minister wants us to believe that the economic damage of leaving the European Union will be made up by concluding trade deals around the world - but her own trade minister can't point to a single country that has expressed an interest in a free trade deal with Britain".

But Labour criticised the interest in TPP and urged ministers to look closer to home and focus on the "key future trading agreement" with the EU.

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