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FILE PHOTO: Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos (R) sits with Greg Hands during a business meeting at Buckingham Palace, in central London, Britain November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Kirsty Wigglesworth/Pool


LIMA (Reuters) - British officials are in talks with Peru, Colombia and Ecuador to use the three countries' existing trade agreement with the European Union as the basis for forming new deals after Brexit, the British embassy in Lima said on Wednesday.

Britain has courted new trade deals from India to Canada as it prepares for its 2019 scheduled departure from the European Union, the world's largest trading bloc.

The vote last year to leave the EU was widely seen as a setback to global efforts to reduce trade barriers, but London said it offers new opportunities.

"As we leave the EU, we need to look outwards and be a beacon for free trade by forging independent trading arrangements," British Minister for Trade Policy Greg Hands said in a statement from the embassy.

Hands was in Lima on Wednesday to meet with Peru's Trade Minister Eduardo Ferreyros, the embassy said. Other British officials have also met recently with their Ecuadorian and Colombian counterparts, it added.

Trade between Britain and South American countries totalled 12.4 billion pounds in 2015, the embassy said.

Britain cannot sign any trade agreement until it leaves the EU.

(Reporting By Mitra Taj, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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