British PM already discussing future trade ties with NZ, Australia and India

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Associated Press

British Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain has already started discussions on future trade ties with New Zealand, Australia and India, following last year's vote to leave the European Union.

As well as seeking to pursue "a bold and ambitious" free trade agreement with the EU, May told an audience at the World Economic Forum on Thursday that Britain is looking to strike trade deals with "old friends" and "new allies."

She said tentative discussions have already begun with Australia, India and New Zealand and that China, Brazil, and the Persian Gulf states have expressed their interest in striking trade deals.

"It is about embracing genuine free trade, because that is the basis of our prosperity but also the best way to cement the multilateral partnerships and cooperation that help to build a better world," she said.

"I want the UK to emerge from this period of change as a truly global Britain — the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe, too."

She said governments have to also take account of those left behind by globalisation, saying "mainstream political and business leaders have failed to comprehend their legitimate concerns for too long."

She urged businesses to play by the same rules as everyone else, especially on paying taxes.

Otherwise, she said, political parties of the far left and far right will keep exploiting this discontent.

"If we are to make the case for free markets, free trade and globalisation, as we must, those of us who believe in them must face up to and respond to the concerns people have," May said.

May's speech comes two days after she outlined her strategy for the Brexit discussions with the EU that will start after she formally triggers the two-year exit discussions.

That is expected by the end of March.

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