The United Kingdom will begin negotiations on Tuesday (June 22) to join the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement, which it believes is essential for the transition from Europe to a more geographically distant but faster-growing economy after Brexit.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) abolished 95% of tariffs among its members: Japan, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, Chile, and Malaysia.
As an exporter of high-quality consumer goods and professional services, the UK hopes to open up a niche market for itself in world trade. Joining the agreement will complement the trade agreement that London is seeking or has reached with larger members.
“This part of the world is where the UK’s biggest opportunity lies. When we leave the European Union, we promised to deepen our ties with our old allies outside Europe and the fast-growing consumer market,” said Trade Minister Liz Truss. “This is a glittering post-Brexit prize, and I hope we can seize it.”
CPTPP is not expected to cause a surge in UK exports. But it locks in market access, including the legal, financial, and professional services sectors, and is seen by ministers as an important way to gain influence in a region that is increasingly becoming a dominant economic power in China.
Unlike the European Union, the CPTPP does not impose laws on its members, does not aim to create a single market or customs union, and does not seek broader political integration.
The process of negotiating membership is mainly to prove to existing members that the UK can meet the organization’s standards for tariff abolition and trade liberalization, and then specify how and when to do so.
The trade department said in a statement: “The CPTPP agreement has strong regulations on unfair trade practices, such as favoring state-owned enterprises, protectionism, discriminating against foreign investors and forcing companies to hand over private information.”
“Britain’s accession will strengthen the international consensus against this unfair practice,” it added.
The government is expected to release a document on Tuesday, setting out its assessment of membership benefits, but emphasizing cars and whiskey as commodities that will benefit from exports.
The United States withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement planned by then-President Donald Trump. His successor Joe Biden talked about the possibility of renegotiating the deal before he was elected last November, but he has not made any clear plans since he took office.