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Britain to launch formal talks on joining TPP

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a vaccination centre at the StoneX Stadium, home of the rugby club Saracens, in North London on June 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, Pool)

LONDON (Kyodo) -- Britain will officially launch negotiations Tuesday to join the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact seen as a promising market, the government said in a statement.

    Britain filed a request in February to join the trading bloc which spans the Asia-Pacific region. The free trade bloc, currently chaired by Japan, agreed to start negotiations on the matter earlier this month.

    London is keen to boost trade with the region following its decision to leave the European Union, and sees the free trade area -- estimated to be worth 9 trillion pounds ($12.5 trillion), according to the government -- as a source of growth in the coming years.

    The nations in the bloc, officially called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, have a combined population of some 500 million people.

    "Membership (in the pact) would open up unparalleled opportunities for British businesses and consumers in the fast-growing Indo-Pacific," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in the statement released Monday.

    "It's an exciting opportunity to build on this country's entrepreneurial spirit and free-trading history to bring economic benefits across the whole of the U.K.," he said.

    Britain is eager to lower tariffs on key exports such as cars and whisky and sees new markets for food exports, particularly beef and lamb.

    London also hopes to boost the export of services to the region.

    International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said in the same statement, "This part of the world is where Britain's greatest opportunities lie. We left the EU with the promise of deepening links with old allies and fast-growing consumer markets beyond Europe, and joining the high-standards Trans-Pacific Partnership is an important part of that vision."

    The trade agreement, which came into force in 2018, covers about 13 percent of global gross domestic product. Among the 11 member nations -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam -- seven have so far ratified it.

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