UK set to join trans-Pacific free trade pact
PM Rishi Sunak says Britain has agreed to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, described by his office as the biggest trade deal since Brexit.
The United Kingdom has agreed to join an 11-country trans-Pacific trade pact as it looks to deepen ties in the region and build its global trade links after leaving the European Union.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday said Britain had agreed to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in a move his office said was the biggest trade deal since Brexit.
“We are at our heart an open and free-trading nation, and this deal demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms,” Sunak said in a statement posted on the government website.
“As part of CPTPP, the UK is now in a prime position in the global economy to seize opportunities for new jobs, growth and innovation.”
The CPTPP is the successor to a previous trans-Pacific trade pact that the United States withdrew from under former President Donald Trump in 2017.
Its members include fellow G7 members Canada and Japan, and historic UK allies Australia and New Zealand. The remaining members are Mexico, Chile and Peru, along with Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei.
Britain has been looking to build global trade ties following its departure from the EU in 2020 and has looked to pivot towards geographically distant but fast-growing economies.
“Joining the CPTPP trade bloc puts the UK at the centre of a dynamic and growing group of Pacific economies, as the first new nation and first European country to join,” Sunak said in the statement.
Membership will supplement existing bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) Britain has with most of the member countries, and gives businesses extra options over the terms they can trade under.
The overall effect of the trade deal is set to be modest. Britain said the deal, which will cut tariffs on cars, spirits and dairy products, would boost the economy by 1.8 billion pounds ($2.2bn) each year in the long run – a figure that could rise as more countries join the pact.
Britain has agreed new post-Brexit trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, and agreed an FTA with Japan in 2020. It is also in talks with Canada and Mexico over new FTAs, after it rolled over previous EU trade deals at the end of 2020.
Japan’s Economy Minister Shigeyuki Goto said Britain’s joining the pact was “a great significance” in further promoting free trade, open and competitive markets as well as economic integration beyond the Pacific Rim.
Japan chaired negotiations on Britain joining the pact.
Regarding other economies that have applied to join, such as China and Taiwan, Goto said Japan would need to take a close look at whether they were “fully prepared to meet the high standards” of the agreement.
Meanwhile, Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said the UK’s joining “will have great meaning for forming a free and fair economic order”.
Ecuador, Costa Rica and Uruguay have also applied for membership.