Following its rejection earlier this week by United States President Donald Trump, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could potentially see the United Kingdom join its ranks post-Brexit.
According to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the UK has shown "real interest" in joining the free trade deal, and is partaking in preliminary discussions on doing so.
"The UK has shown real interest in it. Obviously, they'll have to leave the European Union first, but we've had very preliminary discussions, I guess would be the best way of describing it. The UK has shown real interest, and you can see the attraction of it to the UK, because if they were to join the TPP, they'd be entering into a high-quality trade agreement with 11 other countries in one hit," Turnbull told media in London.
"Now of course, it'd have to be negotiated with all those 11 other countries including Australia. Nonetheless, it's impressive, I think, to see the strong interest shown by the UK.
"Of course they're just one of a number of countries. South Korea has shown strong interest as indeed has a number of other countries."
While Trump had told media earlier this week following meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida on the TPP that "if they offered us a deal I can't refuse on behalf of the US I would do it", he then used Twitter to reject the trade deal on Tuesday night.
"While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don't like the deal for the United States," Trump tweeted.
"Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn't work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers. Look how bad WTO is to U.S."
The tweet followed Trump last week telling a group of lawmakers during a business and trade White House meeting concerning rising tariffs with China that he was reconsidering joining the TPP.
Trump had asked US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and new chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow to examine re-entering the free trade agreement and "take another look at whether or not a better deal could be negotiated" after facing the consequences of starting a trade war with China last month that could impact American exports.
The original TPP had been signed in February 2016 by the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, and Chile, but was then dumped by Trump on his first week in office in favour of bilateral trade deals that promote his "America first" protectionist policy, despite warnings that he risked "abdicating" trade leadership in the Asia-Pacific region to China.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP 11 then passed at the start of this year with its remaining member nations, and will take effect in Australia by the end of 2018.
With South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia also having shown "strong interest" in the TPP, Turnbull said he is hopeful that other nations will additionally join the trade pact in future.
While Turnbull had also previously suggested that the TPP could be opened up to China, the Chinese government expressed unwillingness to join, instead favouring the RCEP, which is being negotiated between China, Australia, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand.
The New Zealand government in February published the content of the TPP 11 deal, with the intellectual property chapter outlining safe harbour and fair use regimes, as well as pushing civil and criminal penalties for piracy.
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