Britain gets approval for next step to join trans-Pacific trade pact; Asean's Vietnam, S'pore, Brunei and Malaysia already in

TOKYO, Feb 18 (Reuters): Members of a trans-Pacific trade pact have agreed that Britain can proceed with its bid to join the group, Japan said on Friday, as it looks for new trading relationships after leaving the European Union.

Under the terms of the pact, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), members Japan, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, Chile and Malaysia remove 95% of tariffs between them.

Japan, which heads the pact's accessions working group, said members had agreed that Britain could proceed to the next phase of negotiations for joining, Japan's Cabinet Secretariat said in a statement.

Britain will be expected to submit its market access offer, such as on tariffs, to members within the next 30 days, it said.

"The CPTPP members remain committed to upholding the high standard rules and market access throughout the accession process," the secretariat said.

"Next steps are being coordinated among CPTPP members and with the United Kingdom."

Britain began negotiations in June last year to join the pact, which it sees as key to its post-Brexit pivot away from Europe and towards geographically more distant but faster-growing economies. - Reuters

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