Green light for UK to start CPTPP talks


On Wednesday, it was agreed by member nations of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) that Britain could start the process of joining the pact.

The decision marks another step in Britain’s moves to form new global trading links with faster growing economies following its exit from the European Union at the end of 2020.

Japan’s view

Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters he welcomed the start of Britain’s joining process after hosting an online meeting of ministers from the 11 countries that make up the trans-Pacific trade pact.

“The United Kingdom’s potential membership would support the mutual interests, common values and commitment to upholding the rules-based trading system shared by the members of the CPTPP,” the 11 member countries said in a statement.

CPTPP is a trade agreement between 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. In 2018, CPTPP member countries accounted for £95b worth of the UK’s trade and 13% of global GDP (which would increase to more than 16% if the UK were to join).

The United Kingdom’s admission into CPTPP would bring the nominal gross domestic product of the zone covered by the pact almost on par with that of the EU, Nishimura said.

The CPTPP removes 95% of tariffs between its members and unlike the EU, it does not aim to create a single market or a customs union, and it does not seek wider political integration.

Free Trade

Membership is seen by British ministers as one of several ways of building influence in the region to help promote free trade. The UK Government has said it would like to pursue accession to the CPTPP for 3 main reasons:

  1. To secure increased trade and investment opportunities in the CPTPP trade area.
  2. To help diversify our trading links and supply chains.
  3. To help secure our future place in the world.

British Trade Minister Liz Truss said she welcomed the decision and would lay out her plans to parliament in the coming weeks.

The process of joining formally begins with the forming of a working party to assess Britain’s compatibility with the deal. Britain said it would work with Japan, which chairs the group this year, to conduct the negotiations as quickly as possible.

Britain made a formal request to join the trade deal in February. It will supplement bilateral deals Britain has, or is seeking, with member states. Britain struck its first major post-Brexit deal – the CEPA – with Japan last October.