The UK's trade secretary has argued it is too soon to seek membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after reports emerged that Britain held informal talks with members of the bloc.
“We don’t know what the success of the TPP is going to yet look like, because it isn’t yet negotiated. So 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,” Fox told Reuters in an interview.
The TPP has 11 members, including Australia, Japan, Canada and Mexico, after Donald Trump pulled the US out last year, which are working on a revised trade deal, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, that they expect to sign early this year.
Fox added that the UK wasn't ruling the TPP out: “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.”
A spokesperson for the Department of International Trade last night said the government had not ruled out “plurilateral relationships”.
Fox was in China for his first working trip of the year to meet the Chinese vice minister of commerce Zhong Shan, as well as Ma Minzhe, chairman of insurance giant Ping An.
On his visit, he told Reuters that London would continue to welcome foreign investment after the US rejected China's Ant Financial's acquisition of MoneyGram last night.
"Of course, we would look, as other countries would do, at our security issues in terms of investment. But the UK has traditionally been an open country, welcoming of foreign direct investment. And we'll continue to do that," Fox said.