LONDON (Dispatches) - The 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc has agreed to open accession talks with the UK.
The British government, which asked to join the TPP in February, said membership was a huge opportunity in a post-Brexit world.
A working group is now expected to be set up to discuss tariffs and rules governing trade and investment.
The UK is not expected to join the TPP, which includes Australia, Mexico and Japan, until next year at the earliest.
International trade secretary Liz Truss said in a statement the decision to begin the accession process was “excellent news”.
“It will help shift our economic centre of gravity away from Europe towards faster-growing parts of the world, and deepen our access to massive consumer markets in the Asia Pacific.
She said the government would present plans to Parliament “in the coming weeks” before starting negotiations.
Since Brexit, the government has sought to replace many of the trade deals it had as a member of the EU, but has yet to sign one with a new country or trade area.