TOKYO − Britain is mulling the possibility of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership after leaving the European Union, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.
The London-based, Japanese-owned newspaper said Britain has already held informal talks about the prospects of joining the distant trade group after Brexit, based on a proposal developed by the Department for International Trade.
Greg Hands, minister of state for international trade, was quoted as saying British membership should not be ruled out because "with these kinds of plurilateral relationships, there doesn't have to be any geographical restriction."
But International Trade Secretary Liam Fox later told Reuters amid a visit to China that "it would be a little bit premature for us to be wanting to sign up to something that we're not sure what the final details will look like."
After U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the world's biggest economy from the TPP in January last year, the 12-nation deal signed a year earlier was left with just 11 members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
In November, they agreed to continue with a successor deal, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, but the negotiations continue.
"We don't know what the success of the TPP is going to yet look like, because it isn't yet negotiated," Fox told Reuters in an interview.
"However, we have said that we want to be an open outward looking country, and therefore it would be foolish for us to rule out any particular outcomes for the future. So we'll keep an open mind, and we'll want to talk to our global trading partners."