The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) gives UK businesses a chance to export to some of the Asia-Pacific’s fastest-growing markets and could help Britain become a “nation of exporters”, according to trade experts on a webinar held yesterday (8 November).
The Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT)-hosted webinar took place as part of International Trade Week, and saw Department for Business and Trade (DBT) lead on CPTPP engagement Hope Hadfield and IOE&IT trade policy lead Henriette Gjaerde present.
Also appearing were Adriana Santos, head of international at Tracklement, and Graham Richards, brand director at Ronhill & Hilly, while IOE&IT executive editor Will Barns-Graham hosted.
A Q&A session during the event saw an attendee pose the question to Hadfield on the implications of a potential 2024 general election on the timeline for CPTPP’s introduction.
“The short answer,” she replied, “is that it shouldn’t.”
“We’re confident that we’ll get the legislation through parliament in time, and then will introduce the secondary legislation as needed.”
Hadfield added that the deal is broadly supported across the political spectrum. This could mean that a change of government wouldn’t disrupt the bill’s passage through parliament.
In response to a further question around the timeline of CPTPP implementation, she said she expects it to enter into full force in the second half of next year, calling it a “government priority”.
‘Great for the UK’
In her presentation, Hadfield described the group of countries who have signed up to CPTPP as a particularly “diverse” trade bloc, with a set of very different economies from a “very fast-growing region” that mean the deal should be “great for the UK and [its] businesses”.
More than 99% of current UK goods exports will be eligible for tariff-free trade with CPTPP nations, she emphasised, and “modern rules on digital trade” will give businesses “of all shapes and sizes” new export opportunities.
Lord Offord, who spoke in a video provided for the webinar, vaunted the size of CPTPP markets and outlined his ambition for the UK to become a “nation of exporters”.
Countries not currently part of the deal who have applied to join it, including China, Ukraine and Uruguay, also featured in a question to Hadfield.
She explained that the Auckland Principles, agreed in the summer, mean that countries will need to have a “demonstrated pattern” of adhering to their trade commitments.
CPTPP members will need to come to consensus on an application for new countries to be admitted.
The business perspective
Some of the benefits of CPTPP for businesses were outlined by Santos.
The condiment company already exports to three countries included in the trade bloc: Australia, Canada and Singapore.
Santos said that Tracklement is beginning to see benefits from the CPTPP, and emphasised a point also made by Gjaerde that the deal would not replace any bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs).
The new deal compliments existing agreements, she explained, which has meant that a selection of her company’s products previously subject to duties no longer would be.
Richards, meanwhile, pointed to how the support of DBT and other organisations like IOE&IT can play an important role in UK businesses exporting to CPTPP markets.