The UK’s first post-Brexit international trade deal is set to be signed with Japan within a matter of weeks, according to reports.
Japanese officials were keen to accelerate the agreement of a trade deal with Brexit Britain, and plans appear to be on track. After daily talks between British and Japanese negotiators since June 8th, there was reportedly a “significant breakthrough” on Tuesday.
“Japan is happening — and it’s happening soon,” a UK government source told The Sun. High-level negotiations are at an “advanced stage”, said the source, with predictions that the UK’s first trade deal — worth an estimated £31.6 billion — as an independent nation will be signed in September.
The deal, based on the EU-Japan agreement, is believed to include a reduction of tariffs on Japanese tech goods coming into the UK and on imports of British luxury cars into Japan. The UK is also seeking the lowering of other duties, while Japan wants free access to British markets.
Australia’s High Commissioner for the UK, George Brandis, said in June that he is confident that an Aussie-British deal could be struck in a matter of months. International Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced on Wednesday the successful conclusion of the first round of trade talks with New Zealand, which should boost mutual investment and enhance digital trade. The minister said she would ensure that Britain’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) would also benefit.
“We are now one step closer to an ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreement with one of our oldest friends,” Ms Truss said.
The trade secretary is also seeking the United Kingdom’s membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which she believes is the “next logical step” after signing agreements with Australia and New Zealand. The 11-member CPTPP accounts for 13 per cent of the world’s economic output, making it the third-largest global trading bloc.
Stretching from the Antipodes and South East Asia to the Americas, the members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
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Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that America wants to sign a trade deal “as soon as possible”.
“We’ve completed two rounds, we’ve got more work to do, with a third round scheduled for later this month.
“It is the primary focus of the United States to see if we can make progress on this and bring it to a close just as soon as possible.
“I spoke to the Prime Minister this morning about this, and I hope we can get it finalised before too long,” Mr Pompeo told reporters last week.
The positive news of progress in a significant trade deal with Japan comes against a backdrop of reports that the UK will not agree on a trade deal with the European Union. The UK will likely leave the bloc entirely at the end of the transition period on December 31st, 2020, and trade on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms. Brussels has so far remained intransigent on issues like close regulatory alignment and fishing; London has said it will not compromise sovereignty for a deal.
The UK officially left the EU on January 31st, 2020, but remains in a transition period until the end of the year, tied to the bloc’s rules and regulations. All trade deals signed before then will come into effect after January 1st, 2021. With nations and blocs where there is no deal, the UK will trade on WTO rules.
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