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Trade secretary Liz Truss has today spoken with her counterparts in Japan and New Zealand to launch the UK’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Formal negotiations are set to start this year, the government announced over the weekend

'Turbo-charged trade'

Writing in the Telegraph, Truss said she would present the UK’s formal letter of application in a bid to join “the dynamic CPTPP trading area”.

“Turbo-charging trade with these economies, which cover nearly £9 trillion of world GDP, will be key to fuelling our economic recovery by supporting jobs and growth for our key industries in every region and nation of the United Kingdom,” she said.

According to a tweet by the DIT, UK trade with CPTPP members was worth £111bn in 2019, growing by 8% a year on average since 2016.

Deeper trade ties with these fast-growing economies will create new opportunities for industries like auto, food & drink and tech, it claims.

Trade without ties

Some media observers have been critical of UK government hopes being pinned to CPTPP membership.

Andrew Marr's eponymous BBC’s show on Sunday 31 January suggested that the deal could have limited impact as the UK already has deals with seven of the 11 members, and that this could rise to nine when FTAs are concluded with Australia and New Zealand.

The Guardian meanwhile notes that the pact’s nearest member is 3,000 miles away from the UK. The CPTPP is made up of 11 nations, including Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico and Singapore.

Others are warning that the most important UK trade agreement is with its nearest neighbour, the EU. 

Despite the distances involved however, the UK sees membership of the group as a way to increase trade with fast growth countries without ceding sovereignty over issues such as laws, borders and money.

Backdoor to US?

However, the FT reports that Boris Johnson hopes US president Joe Biden will also join the group, opening a backdoor to closer UK-US trade ties as hopes of an early trade deal between London and Washington fade.