UK foreign secretary: Britain wants trade deal with Japan within the year

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UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab wants talks with Japan to start before spring | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Dominic Raab says talks with Tokyo to begin before spring.

Britain is seeking an “ambitious” free-trade deal with Japan by the end of the year, according to U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Following meetings with the Japanese government in Tokyo, Raab, who is currently in the country on his first post-Brexit overseas trip in Asia, said trade negotiations with Japan are expected to begin before spring, Reuters reported.

His Asia-Pacific tour includes visits to Australia, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.

Raab also said there is enough political will to strike a deal with the EU before the post-Brexit transition period expires at the end of this year.

“We have too much in common, too much at stake for politics to trump the mutual economic self interest. On both sides we’ve got a chance now to focus on the positives in the relationship,” said Raab, in a bid to ease tensions among Japanese companies like Nissan and Toyota, which invested heavily in the U.K. as a gateway to the EU and have raised concerns over Brexit in the past.

In response, Raab’s Japanese counterpart, Toshimitsu Motegi, asked for the U.K. to lift import restrictions on Japanese food and other products that were imposed by the EU in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

Though the EU eased those import regulations last year, Raab told Reuters: “We understand the Japanese concern about this and it will be science led.”

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