Japan will support Britain in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord as both countries seek to promote free and rules-based trade, economy revitalization minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Tuesday.
During talks in Tokyo, British International Trade Secretary Liam Fox expressed Britain’s desire to join the TPP, and Japan offered to provide the necessary information and act as an intermediary, according to Motegi.
“Your expression of interest is a great encouragement to our efforts to attach importance to a free trade system based on rules and to fight protectionism,” Motegi said at the outset of the talks.
The British government has been showing interest for months in joining the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework, which is now formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“We see both the U.K.’s potential accession to CPTPP and the enhancement of the EU-Japan EPA (economic partnership agreement) into a new and stronger relationship as being the basis of our economic cooperation,” Fox said.
Tokyo has been promoting the benefits of multilateral trade deals after the abrupt U.S. withdrawal from the original TPP. In July, Tokyo signed a free trade agreement with the European Union.
Motegi told reporters after the meeting that Britain’s participation would help promote multilateral trade systems that are “free, fair and rules-based.”
Japan, now the leading economy in the framework, and the other existing members are seeking to open its doors to newcomers amid the rise of protectionist moves under U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy.
The pact, signed in March, will enter into force 60 days after at least six signatories complete necessary domestic procedures, and only then can talks begin on including additional members.
Japan, Mexico and Singapore have ratified the pact while New Zealand, Australia and Vietnam are expected to follow within this year.
The other CPTPP members are Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia and Peru. Together, the members account for about 13 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product.
Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, South Korea and Taiwan have also indicated interest in joining the framework.