UK inches closer to trans-Pacific trade pact

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The UK on Friday reached a major milestone to join what Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has hailed ‘one of the largest and most exciting free-trading clubs in the world’.

Confirmation from the Japanese government, as Chair of the UK’s Accession Working Group on behalf of the CPTPP members, in the early hours of this morning means the UK has moved into the second ‘market access’ phase of negotiations with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a free trade area worth £8.4 trillion in GDP.

The announcement comes ahead of Trevelyan’s visit to Indonesia, Japan and Singapore next week to oversee the launch of the final accession stage and deepen trade ties throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

Moving to the final stage of the accession process is a key milestone towards acceding to CPTPP and means the UK has demonstrated to members of the partnership that we are a high-standards, fair trading economy.

“CPTPP is one of the largest and most exciting free-trading clubs in the world. Today’s announcement is a major milestone for us joining this dynamic group of economies and means the finish line is in sight,” said Trevelyan.

“I look forward to visiting Asia next week and flying the flag for Global Britain by holding valuable trade talks with key partners across the Indo-Pacific region and pushing to secure CPTPP accession by the end of the year. This is just one aspect of our Indo-Pacific strategy, which will benefit businesses and consumers across every part of the UK and help us to level up at home.”

Following today’s announcement, market access negotiations will now begin in which the UK will agree new trading relationships with CPTPP countries, which could lead to 99.9% of UK exports to CPTPP being eligible for tariff-free trade.

CBI President Lord Karan Bilimoria said: This marks a significant step towards the UK’s ambition to join one of the largest free trade agreements in the world. Global trade is pivotal for levelling up our regions, and this deal could unlock opportunities with countries contributing more than £100 billion to our economy. It will also give the UK a chance to play a leading role in shaping standards.

Nicola Watkinson, Managing Director, International Trade and Investment, TheCityUK, said: “This announcement is a significant milestone in the UK’s journey towards joining this strategically important trade bloc and demonstrates the real momentum behind the UK’s application. CPTPP member countries include some critical growth markets for the UK-based financial and related professional services industry. Membership will give UK firms greater access to business opportunities in one of the fastest growing regions in the world, benefiting the UK’s overall export performance.”

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