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Opinion

UK and Japan race to reach free trade agreement

Deal would put spotlight on viability of "Global Britain"

| Europe
U.K. trade secretary Liz Truss, right, meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, left, in London on Aug. 6: the prospects for a deal look reasonable. (Handout photo from Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Lionel Barber is former editor of the Financial Times and chairman of the Tate art galleries.

The free trade negotiations between the U.K. and Japan, now entering their final stage, have evolved according to the rhythm of a Kabuki play. The drama opened slowly as both sides tested each other's intentions. The pace has since accelerated ahead of a notional September deadline set by Japan. But without agreement by December 2020, the end will be lively -- and likely painful for the U.K.

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