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International relations

Japan and UK affirm goal of year-end trade deal

Britain cites progress toward agreement with 'like-minded democracy' and 'ally'

Liz Truss, the U.K.'s secretary of state for international trade, meets with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in London on Aug. 6.  (Photo courtesy of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

LONDON (Reuters) -- Britain and Japan made progress towards a comprehensive free trade deal and are committed to getting a deal in place by the end of this year, trade minister Liz Truss said on Thursday.

Japanese foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi is in London this week meeting senior ministers as the two countries try to tie up a deal before Britain leaves the European Union and no longer benefits from an existing EU-Japan deal.

"We've made further progress towards a comprehensive deal with a like-minded democracy and long-standing ally, and we share a commitment to getting a deal in place by the end of 2020," Truss said in a statement.

Japan, the world's third largest economy, has for decades been a large foreign investor in British industry, particularly in consumer electronics and car manufacturing. The total value of bilateral trade in 2019 was 31.6 billion pounds ($41.5 billion) according to British data.

Britain is seeking a deal that uses the 2019 EU-Japan agreement as its template, and seeks to improve on its terms in strategic areas.

British analysis estimated that, in the long run, the trade deal could increase annual trade flows between both countries by 15.2 billion pounds and increase the size of the UK economy by 1.5 billion pounds.

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