June 8, 2020 / 9:17 PM / a month ago

UK and Japan aim for free trade deal this year as negotiations begin

FILE PHOTO: Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss arrives at Downing Street in London, Britain February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will begin negotiating a post-Brexit trade agreement with Japan on Tuesday which the government said both sides hoped would enter into force by the end of this year.

After decades 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 negotiations with the United States.

Trade deals typically take years to complete. Britain is also hoping to reach a trade agreement with the EU by the end of the year.

Talks will be held via video conference and will be kicked off by British trade minister Liz Truss and Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs   Toshimitsu Motegi on Tuesday.

“This deal will provide more opportunities for businesses and individuals across every region and nation of the UK and help boost our economies following the unprecedented economic challenges posed by coronavirus,” Truss said in a statement.

Britain said it aimed to reach a deal which builds on Japan’s existing agreement with the EU, going further by including areas such as digital trade.

Japan was Britain’s fourth-biggest non-EU trading partner in 2019, with total trade between the two countries of 31.4 billion pounds, according to government statistics.

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

Britain said around 100 negotiators would be involved on its side, with talks led by Graham Zebedee, a former British ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and overseen by Britain’s Chief Trade Negotiation Adviser Crawford Falconer.  

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison

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