UK to consult public on possible bid to join Pacific trade pact

Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox leaves Downing Street in Westminster, London, Britain, July 18, 2018. (Reuters pic)

LONDON: British Trade Minister Liam Fox said on Wednesday he will consult the public about a possible bid to join a Pacific trade group that includes Canada, Australia and Mexico, once Britain leaves the European Union.

Fox also said there would be consultations on trade deals between Britain and the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

“The government is determined not only to seek deals with key bilateral partners but to break new ground: putting the UK at the heart of the world’s fastest-growing regions,” Fox said in a speech to the Federation of Small Businesses.

“That is why I am also announcing a … consultation on potentially seeking accession to CPTPP – the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

The CPTPP has replaced the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was thrown into question early last year when US President Donald Trump withdrew from it after his inauguration.

The Confederation of British Industry employers’ group said companies would welcome the government’s commitment to free and fair trade, but that the top priority was a trade deal with the EU.