UK trade officials start negotiations to join Trans-Pacific Partnership

The UK has taken a major step in the process of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the successor to the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the USA's withdrawal. This approach is designed to fill the agreement-gap for significant amounts of global trade post-Brexit, while the Transition Period ends at the start of 2021. 

International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, alongside the current chair of the CPTPP Commission, Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Márquez, opened discussions between senior UK trade officials and Chief Negotiators from all 11 members of the Partnership to discuss potential UK accession.

This is the first time the UK has met with Chief Negotiators from all 11 members of the Partnership to discuss UK accession, and the first time CPTPP members have had such a discussion with a country seeking membership since the Partnership was created in 2018. The UK has not yet submitted an application, but negotiators have spoken to all key partners in the organisation. 

This meeting follows major progress in negotiations between the UK and Japan, the beginning of negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, and the resumption of negotiations with Canada, as the UK looks to focus on trade with the dynamic Asia-Pacific region. CPTPP membership also provides an opportunity to expand trade links with key partners in the Americas.

Liz Truss, International Trade Secretary, said:

Joining CPTPP would send a powerful signal to the rest of the world that Britain is prepared to work with countries who champion free and fair trade.

Membership would bring new opportunities for our go-getting businesses, more choice for our consumers, and provide us with greater economic security. Strategically, it would help us forge closer ties with the wider Pacific region and put us in a stronger position to reshape global trading rules alongside countries who share our values.

The free trade area removes tariffs on 95% of goods traded between its members, which could reduce costs for businesses and create new economic opportunities for UK exporters. Since 2009 trade between the UK and CPTPP countries has grown on average by 6% every year and was worth over £112bn in 2019.

The partnership includes ambitious agreements on digital trade, data, financial, professional, and business services, all of which are areas where the UK is a global leader and stands to benefit from more trade.

The scale and scope of the CPTPP pales in comparison with the EU. The size of the EU economy and of UK-EU trade is significantly larger than the group, while cooperation and intra-EU trade core principles. The government has once again ramped up talk of leaving the EU with no Brexit deal over recent days, and suggested repealing the Withdrawal Agreement to facilitate this.