LONDON (Reuters) - Japan would welcome Britain “with open arms” into a Trans Pacific trade pact, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the Financial Times on Sunday.
Abe, one of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s closest international allies, also said he hoped both sides in Britain’s deadlocked Brexit negotiations with the European Union (EU) would be able to reach a compromise to avoid a disorderly Brexit.
British Trade Minister Liam Fox said in July he would consult the public about a possible bid to join the Pacific trade group that includes Canada, Australia and Mexico, once Britain leaves the EU.
May’s government has touted the freedom to strike new trade deals outside the EU as one of the main economic benefits of Brexit, but its ability to do so could yet depend on the outcome of negotiations in Brussels.
Both sides are hoping to agree a deal by November, but the stalled negotiations have left some investors worried that Britain could end up leaving the bloc without a deal - an outcome that many say would damage the British economy.
“I hope that both sides can contribute their wisdom and at least avoid a so-called disorderly Brexit,” Abe told the FT.
Japanese firms have spent more than 40 billion pounds ($52.49 billion) in Britain, encouraged by successive governments since Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s promised them a business-friendly base from which to trade across the continent.
($1 = 0.7621 pounds)
Reporting by William James in London and Gaurika Juneja in Bengaluru; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise