• Reuters

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The United Kingdom is interested in joining the latest version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc after it leaves the European Union, the Financial Times newspaper said.

The FT said the U.K. had started informal talks about joining the bloc in a bid to boost post-Brexit exports. Although the United States pulled out of the talks to form the bloc nearly a year ago, other countries involved have pledged to move forward with plans for a trade group.

The TPP has so far involved only countries around the Pacific Rim such as Japan, Canada and Mexico. However, junior trade minister Greg Hands said there was no geographical restriction that would prevent the U.K.’s participation.

“Nothing is excluded in all of this,” he told the Financial Times. “With these kind of plurilateral relationships, there doesn’t have to be any geographical restriction.”

EU rules state that the U.K. cannot agree new trade deals before it leaves the bloc in March 2019. The newspaper quoted an official from a TPP country as saying it was “way too soon” to discuss U.K. accession before a Brexit deal.

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