Member nations of a Pacific regional trade deal agreed Wednesday to allow the U.K. to begin the process to join in a potential boost for the country’s trade following Brexit.
Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said the move would strengthen economic ties between the U.K. and Japan, as well as making the zone covered by the deal equal to the EU in terms of economic size. He spoke to reporters after hosting an online meeting of ministers and officials from the 11 countries who make up the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“The commencement of an accession process with the United Kingdom and the potential expansion of the CPTPP will send a strong signal to our trading partners around the world of our commitment to support a free, fair, open, effective, inclusive and rules-based trading system,” the ministers said in a joint statement.
While the grouping was at one point seen as a way for the U.S. and Japan to counter the growing economic might of China, former President Donald Trump withdrew from negotiations when he took office in 2017 and his successor Joe Biden hasn’t indicated any reversal is likely.
“CPTPP membership is a huge opportunity for Britain,” U.K. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement. “It will help shift our economic centre of gravity away from Europe towards faster-growing parts of the world, and deepen our access to massive consumer markets in the Asia Pacific.”
She added in a tweet the government will present its plans on the deal to parliament in the coming weeks.