Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Britain 'could join trade group on other side of planet after Brexit'

Britain 'could join trade group on other side of planet after Brexit'

The 11 remaining members include Australia, Singapore and Canada.

In an attempt to gain new export markets after Brexit, officials have broached the idea of signing up to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It would be the first TPP member that does not have a coast on the Pacific Ocean or South China Sea. The Pacific is 4,500 miles from London.

The trade group is struggling to get going after losing its largest member - the United States - when President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement previous year. In the meantime, Great Britain can choose to reach bilateral agreements with member countries before agreeing to join the TPP in full.

The TPP has 11 members following the withdrawal of the United States a year ago.

"In these multilateral relations, there should be no geographical constraints", said Greg Hands.

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.

"Barry Gardiner, shadow trade secretary, said: "Of course could be helpful but it's not the main event".

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

The TPP, signed under former United States president Barack Obama in early 2016, is created to deepen economic ties between nations by slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth.

The Communication Workers of America union claimed the deal would be a "complete disaster" as it could incentivise corporations to move service sector jobs to lower-wage economies such as Vietnam.

Fellow non-euro country Sweden has long seen Britain as one of its closest partners in the union, and concerns have been raised that pressure for Sweden to join will increase when its ally leaves the EU.

Tim Farron, the former Liberal Democrat leader, said: "This smacks of desperation".

The China-proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) is now likely to be in focus as the TPP appears to crumble.

Britain is said to be drawing up plans to join a trade group based on the other side of the world after Brexit.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the government would match these so-called Basic Payment Scheme funds for "a number of years" beyond a two-year transition meant to ease Britain's withdrawal.

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