Members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are expected to agree this month on allowing Britain to join the free trade pact, Japanese government sources said Wednesday, in the first expansion of the 11-nation deal that currently covers over 10 percent of global economic output.

Britain's accession is hoped to help build momentum for the return of the United States, which withdrew from the pact in 2017 during the administration of former President Donald Trump, the sources said. China is among other countries and regions that have also applied to join it.

File photo taken in March 2018 in Santiago, Chile, shows representatives attending a press conference after the 11 countries remaining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership signed the revised free trade pact without the United States. The pact enters into force on Dec. 30. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Ministers from the TPP members, including Japan, Canada and Australia, will meet online possibly this month, and their agreement on Britain will be formally approved by the partnership's highest decision-making body as early as this year, the sources said.

TPP membership requires the approval of all participating countries.

In a sign of tilting to the Indo-Pacific region following Brexit, Britain in 2021 became the first non-Pacific country formally requesting to join the TPP. China, Taiwan and Uruguay followed suit.

Japan, playing leading roles since the TPP's inauguration, has taken a cautious stance on China's potential membership amid concerns about its compliance with rules on protecting intellectual property rights and other issues.

The TPP members also include Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.