U.K. to ask to join Trans-Pacific trading bloc ‘shortly’

Bilateral deals signed or in works with several CPTPP members

(PaulCowan/iStock/Getty Images)

London | Reuters — Britain will soon submit its application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade bloc, trade minister Liz Truss said on Wednesday.

Since deciding to leave the European Union, a process it completed at the end of 2020, Britain has been seeking out new trading arrangements around the world and sees the CPTPP as an important pillar of its new independent trade policy.

“We will shortly submit our formal request to join this free trade area,” Truss told a City + Financial Global conference.

The CPTPP is a trade agreement that removes most tariffs between Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Truss described the bloc as “one of the world’s most dynamic trading areas.” Britain sees it as a lucrative and growing market for exports of both goods and professional services.

Britain is seeking bilateral trade deals with Australia, New Zealand and has already agreed a deal with Canada that maintains the terms Britain had as an EU member. It has also signed a deal with Japan that goes beyond the existing EU deal.

Full membership of the CPTPP would supplement these deals and offer better access to economies that represent around 13 per cent of global economic output.

Truss is also hoping the change in U.S. administration will unlock progress toward what ministers see as one of the biggest post-Brexit prizes — a free-trade agreement with the United States.

Talks began under Donald Trump’s presidency but could not reach agreement before his term ended. In her speech on Wednesday, Truss signalled that she expected a more constructive approach to world trade under President Joe Biden.

Biden, who took office Wednesday, “has said he is committed to working with fellow democracies to set the rules of the road of international trade,” she said.

— Reporting for Reuters by William James in London.



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