UK publishes surprising update on post-Brexit free trade deal with Japan during lockdown

Talks will take place online due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis Negotiation objectives have been published ahead of online talks. Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss has said that both sides are committed to an “ambitious timeline”.

Ms Truss said: “Japan is one of our largest trading partners and a new trade deal will help to increase trade, boost investment and create more jobs following the economic challenges caused by coronavirus.

“Both sides are committed to an ambitious timeline to secure a deal that goes even further than the existing agreement especially in digital and data.

“Negotiations with Japan are an important step in CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) accession, a key UK priority, which will help us diversify our trade and grow the economy.”

The agreement will be based on the current EU-Japan free trade agreement (FTA) but the Government hopes to secure additional benefits, namely in digital and data.

Among the objectives are ambitions to increase UK GDP and provide new opportunities for businesses.

This is as well as increasing the resilience of British supply chains by diversifying beyond the EU and China.

This comes after the European Union claimed Britain will struggle to sign trade deals around the world before it reaches an agreement with Brussels.

EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan said countries are closely watching the British Government’s progress in the future relationship talks while considering their own options.

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He claimed that both the US and South Korea would not sign a trade deal with the UK before a post-Brexit pact with Brussels is complete.

Mr Hogan said: “All of the partners, I think, have indicated – including South Korea – that they will wait to see the outcome of the Brexit negotiations before they come to any conclusion about their bilateral agreement.”

He added: “I suspect that to be the same with the United States.

“They will want to see how the issues are that the United Kingdom are dealing with the European Union first because, after all, we have 450 million people in the European Union, and there is about 60 or 70 million people in the United Kingdom.


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The Government opened trade talks with Washington in the hope of striking a deal that will help both economies “bounce back” from the coronavirus crisis.

Britain and the US have agreed to sign off on an “ambitious” new arrangements during the first round of virtual negotiations.

Boris Johnson believes a free-trade agreement will be a major boost to the UK after the post-Brexit transition period expires later this year.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Robert Lighthizer, US trade representative, led the start of the talks last week.

Ms Truss said: “The US is our largest trading partner and increasing transatlantic trade can help our economies bounce back from the economic challenge posed by coronavirus.

“We want to strike an ambitious deal that opens up new opportunities for our businesses, brings in more investment and creates better jobs for people across the whole of the country.

“As the Prime Minister has said, the UK is a champion of free trade and this deal will make it even easier to do business with our friends across the pond.”

Mr Lighthizer added: “Under the leadership of President Trump, the United States will negotiate an ambitious and high-standard trade agreement with the UK that will strengthen our economies, support good-paying jobs and substantially improve opportunities for trade and investment between our two countries.”

This comes as chancellor Rishi Sunak warned of “serious implications” to the UK economy amid the coronavirus pandemic after the OBR suggested a recession could hit the country.

The OBR’s dire outlook for the economy could see the UK suffer the worst recession for three centuries.

However, experts have warned against a knee-jerk move to end the coronavirus lockdown to save growth.

While avoiding the use of the word “recession”, the Treasury has admitted in response to the OBR report that Britain was heading for a “very significant hit” from the coronavirus crisis.

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