UK edges closer to joining Asia-Pacific pact for trade and supply chain boost, MPs told

Thu 18 Jun 2020
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News


The UK is now moving to the “formal stage” of joining a trade pact of 11 Pacific nations, the Secretary of State for Trade said in a statement to the House of Commons yesterday (17 June).

Liz Truss told MPs the UK had “formally announced our intention to pursue accession” to all the members of CPTPP – the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam took effect at the end of 2018.

The UK has already launched negotiations for bilateral agreements with Australia, New Zealand and Japan and is working on continuity deals for previous EU deals with Canada and Chile.

‘Three reasons’

Truss said there were three main reasons for the UK’s decision to join CPTPP.

  • To “secure more trade and investment”
  • To “diversify trade and supply chains” to make the economy more resilient
  • To turn the UK into a “global trading hub” at the “centre of modern free trade agreements”

She described CPTPP as a “high standards agreement” between “11 like-minded nations, all of whom believe in the principles of free trade, international cooperation and the rules-based system”.

Small business focus

In response to a question from previous Secretary of State for Trade, Dr Liam Fox, she said the SME chapter within the agreement will cut tariffs and red tape for thousands of smaller businesses.

She said the pact goes “far beyond” what the EU was “willing to do and agree” in deals with Canada and South Korea.

The Pacific region is also at the heart of the UK’s ‘Future Tech Trade Strategy’, launched last week.

Positioning paper

The government also yesterday published a positioning paper on its plans to join CPTPP yesterday morning, which said:

  • Each region and nation of the UK exported at least £1bn worth of goods to CPTPP member countries last year
  • UK companies held close to £98bn-worth of investments in CPTPP countries in 2018
  • In 2019 the UK did more than £110bn-worth of trade with countries in this free trade area.

‘Britain is back’

Speaking about the government’s ‘Global Britain’ strategy to trade more with “old friends and allies” around the world, Truss claimed “Britain is back”.

The agreements the Department for International Trade is working on will “strengthen ties with likeminded countries who share our values and our commitment to free trade.”

She said that Britain is once again a “global campaigner for free trade.”