New foreign secretary Liz Truss is down Mexico way to push for UK membership of the CPTPP trade bloc

Fri 24 Sept 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

liz truss

Foreign secretary Liz Truss is in Mexico to lobby for support for Britain’s CPTPP application.

The former trade minister was with prime minister Boris Johnson on his trip to the US this week and will also discuss plans to develop a new and updated deal between the UK and Mexico.

Mexico is one of 11 current members of the CPTPP and Truss said the UK’s relationship with Mexico has “huge potential”, reports Sky.

Vast opportunities

“It could open vast new opportunities for businesses, support jobs across Britain, and help ensure we play a key role in an open and dynamic Indo-Pacific,” she said. “A trade deal with Mexico, for example, will pave the way for us to join the CPTPP, one of the world’s biggest free trade areas.”

As covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, the UK signed a £5bn continuity trade deal with Mexico in December, benefitting the automotive, pharmaceutical, textiles, agriculture, food and drink, and other manufacturing industries.

As part of her visit Truss will open a new British Embassy in Mexico, visit an AstraZeneca vaccine plant, and attend a dinner celebrating British food with celebrity British-Mexican chef Fernando Stovell, reports City AM.

USMCA interest cools

Following US president Joe Biden playing down hopes for a UK-US trade deal any time soon, the UK was reportedly looking to join the USMCA trade deal which includes the US, Mexico and Canada.

However, the government has distanced itself from an “unprofessional” and “frankly embarrassing” briefing that it could seek to join the bloc in lieu of a UK-US deal, reports the Independent.

The prime minister’s official spokesperson reiterated interest in a bilateral deal.

“What we are focused on is the US deal,” said the spokesperson. “There are no plans to go beyond that at this stage. That is the priority for us.”

Chlorinated chicken again

According to iNews, joining a wider North American trade pact would be as difficult as getting a bilateral deal with the US and could see contentious issues such as chlorinated chicken being pushed back on to the negotiating table.

James Kane of the Institute for Government said using the “circuitous route” of USMCA would be like doing a deal with the US because the UK already has trade deals with Canada and Mexico.

“It would be exactly the same,” he said. “And you’ve got all the same problems.”

He added: “They will still expect the UK to change its rules on chlorinated chicken before they sign on the dotted line, even if the dotted line is labelled USMCA plus UK, rather than UK-US bilateral trade agreement.”