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UK set to formally apply for trans-Pacific trade bloc membership

·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson signs the Brexit trade deal with EU

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will next week formally apply to join a trans-Pacific trading bloc of 11 countries, with negotiations set to start later this year, the government has said.

Since leaving the European Union, Britain has made clear its desire to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which removes most tariffs between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

"One year after our departure for the EU we are forging new partnerships that will bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.

Trade minister Liz Truss told Times Radio: "On Monday I am putting in the letter of intent" and that she expected formal negotiations will start in the spring.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Britain will not publish an assessment of the economic benefits of CPTPP membership before requesting to join it - contrary to earlier promises.

Previous government economic analyses of Brexit have pointed to small boosts to economic output from additional trade deals.

The government said joining CPTPP would remove tariffs on food and drink and cars, while helping to boost the technology and services sectors.

"Applying to be the first new country to join the CPTPP demonstrates our ambition to do business on the best terms with our friends and partners all over the world and be an enthusiastic champion of global free trade," Johnson said.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Toby Chopra)