Britain will today launch negotiations with Japan over a prized post-Brexit free trade agreement.
Industry leaders have urged Whitehall and Tokyo to strike a legally binding accord “at the earliest opportunity” to support companies and consumers on either side.
Liz Truss, the UK’s international trade secretary, hailed an “historic moment” in the two countries’ bilateral trading relationship.
Japan’s deal with the European Union came into force last year, creating the world’s largest free trade zone. Ms Truss intends to go further and highlighted her aspiration for a UK-Japanese deal to set “ambitious standards” on digital trade and services.
“This deal will provide more opportunities for businesses and individuals across every region and nation of the UK and will help boost our economies following the unprecedented economic challenges posed by coronavirus,” she said.
About 100 British negotiators will participate in the talks, which will take place via video conference.
Takaaki Hanaoka, of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry in the UK, described “common ground” between the two countries.