14:35 | 04/01/2018 Cooperation
Britain is interested in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc after it leaves the European Union, the Financial Times newspaper said.
The FT said that Britain 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 TPP countries 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, Mexico and Vietnam. However, junior trade minister Greg Hands said there was no geographical restriction that would prevent Britain's participation.
"Nothing is excluded in all of this," he told the Financial Times. "With these kinds of plurilateral relationships, there doesn't have to be any geographical restriction."
EU rules state that Britain cannot agree on 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 UK accession before a Brexit deal.