Members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, have decided to begin procedures for Britain to join the free trade pact.
The 11 member countries made the decision at a ministerial-level meeting on Wednesday. Japan's Economic Revitalization Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi chaired the online meeting. Britain filed a request for its TPP membership in February.
Nishimura told the meeting that the coronavirus pandemic has caused a global economic slowdown and increased an inward-looking tendency. However, he said he believes the TPP will play a crucial part in making the post-pandemic economy stronger, more sustainable and comprehensive. He said the pact is entering a new phase with Britain's request to join it.
The participants also agreed to set up task force groups to conduct negotiations for Britain's entry.
Nishimura later told reporters that Britain is a global strategic partner as well as an important trade and investment partner for Japan.
He said that if Britain joins the TPP, the development will help build a free and fair economic order. He also said it is significant from a strategic point of view for stronger economic relations between Japan and Britain.