United Kingdom leaving single market for TPP could hit workers' rights, union warns

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The London-based Financial Times newspaper reported today that British Prime Minister Theresa May's government was looking for ways to boost its worldwide trade platforms and is possibly looking to join the almost defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Donald Trump, the US President, abandoned previous year.

Trade Secretary Liam Fox is developing the proposal and Greg Hands, a United Kingdom trade minister, said there's no geographical reason why Britain couldn't join the partnership.

The TPP has so far involved only countries around the Pacific Rim such as Japan, Canada and Mexico. The US accounted for 65% of the total GDP of the original TPP members.

Britain would be the first member of the trade agreement to not border the Pacific Ocean or the South China Sea.

But it's likely any deal would have to wait until the agreement on the UK's exit from the European Union has been settled.

In November 2017, Fox accused British businesses of not being enthusiastic enough about global trade, saying Britain must "get more of our companies to think about exporting overseas".

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The UK is not allowed to make trade deals before it formally leaves the EU.

"In these multilateral relations, there should be no geographical constraints", said Greg Hands.

Combined spending from the TPP countries make up less than 8% of the UK's export market. "It's a great thing for the American worker".

Fellow non-euro country Sweden has long seen Britain as one of its closest partners in the union, and concerns have been raised that pressure for Sweden to join will increase when its ally leaves the EU.

Those include the TPP having not yet been ratified and the considerable uncertainty over the UK's final deal with the EU. "Of course [TPP] could be helpful but it is not the main event, and at the moment the government is making a hash of that", said Barry Gardiner, the shadow trade secretary.

Britain is said to be drawing up plans to join a trade group based on the other side of the world after Brexit. Michael Gove, the environment secretary, said in December that parliament would have an effective veto over any trade deal.

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