Japan, Britain aim for swift trade deal, Tokyo says

FILE PHOTO: Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi speaks during his meeting with Philippines' Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in Manila, Philippines January 9. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and Britain agreed to start talks on an early trade deal, Japan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday, as Britain emerges from decades of outsourcing its trade policy to the European Union.

Britain is embarking on negotiating free trade deals with countries around the world and last month launched formal talks with the United States.

Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi welcomed interest expressed by British Trade Minister Liz Truss to join the Trans-Pacific free trade pact, a foreign ministry statement said.

“Both ministers agreed to start negotiations to build a new economic partnership and work towards an early agreement to secure business continuity for both countries,” the statement said.

Britain hopes ultimately to join the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and sees trade talks with Japan as a step towards that end.

Japan’s trade minister earlier said that Japan would call for an early elimination of automobile and auto parts tariffs in negotiations and adopt high-level rules on digital trade in a post-Brexit trade agreement with Britain.

EU and British negotiators said on Friday they had made very little progress in their latest round of talks about a post-Brexit trade agreement, with just weeks left to extend a year-end deadline to reach a deal.

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko, editing by Louise Heavens and Nick Macfie