UK 'Keen On Joining Trans-Pacific Partnership'

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

Greg Hands, a United Kingdom trade minister, told the FT, which broke the story, the distance between Britain and the TPP countries was not a problem.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership's 11 members are Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, Peru, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Following eight years of negotiations an agreement had been reached, but that was thrown into doubt after President Trump honoured a campaign pledge and pulled out of the trade pact last year. The UK would be the only member of the group not to border the Pacific Ocean.

The TPP pact is created to deepen economic ties between member nations, by slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth.

Abandoning TPP was one of Donald Trump's first acts as USA president, after he claimed during his election campaign that such deals were responsible for job losses and anger in America's industrial heartland.

The UK formally leaves the European Union trading bloc in March 2019 - although a two-year transition arrangement has been proposed to smooth the process.

"With these kinds of plurilateral relationships, there doesn't have to be any geographical restriction", he said.

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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.

Combined spending from the TPP countries make up less than 8% of the UK's export market. "It's a great thing for the American worker".

Dr Fox, the International Trade Secretary, said: "We would be foolish to rule anything out".

The British government is looking at other possibilities, the most important of which is the US.

However, critics said membership of TPP would not compensate for leaving the EU's single market.

Tim Farron, the former Liberal Democrat leader, said: "This plan smacks of desperation. It's all pie in the sky thinking".

Those include the TPP having not yet been ratified and the considerable uncertainty over the UK's final deal with the EU.

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