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Peru seeks trade deal with Britain as Brexit looms: minister

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru wants to negotiate a free trade agreement with Britain as the country prepares to leave the European Union, the Peruvian trade minister said on Thursday after meeting his British counterpart.

Peru signed a trade agreement with the European Union in 2012, but trade barriers with Britain that have eased since then would go back up once London quits the EU single market, the world's largest trading bloc.

"The possibility of a bilateral trade agreement is important," Trade Minister Eduardo Ferreyros said in a statement on his meeting with Lord Price, Britain's Minister of State for Trade Policy.

The trade ministry said it was studying potential products and services that might be covered in a deal. Peru's exports of grapes, blueberries, pomegranates, quinoa, wood, jewelry and clothing would likely benefit, as well as restaurant chains that operate abroad.

Peru, with about 30 million people, is a leading producer of copper, gold and fishmeal. The vast majority of its exports are sent to China and the United States.

Trade between Peru and Britain was worth $783 million in the first 11 months of last year, up 44 percent from the same period in 2015, the ministry said.

As one of Latin America's most open and fastest-growing economies, Peru has been an outspoken advocate for free trade since a wave of protectionist sentiment swept elections in Britain and the United States last year.

On Wednesday, Peru announced it would soon start formal talks with India on a free trade deal.

The Andean country has also agreed to update its trade agreement with its top trade partner China and a tariff-reducing deal it struck with Honduras went into effect at the start of the year.

(Reporting by Mitra Taj; editing by Grant McCool)

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