UK entry into Indo-Pacific trade bloc now 'very likely' with announcement rumoured later this week

Wed 29 Mar 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Image of Asia, including prominent CPTPP nations

The UK is thought to be on the cusp of joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the latest in the government’s efforts to deepen ties with the Indo-Pacific region.

Politico reports that an agreement in principle is expected to be announced later this week, with one source saying that it is “very likely” and “looking good”, while cautioning that the timeline was not 100% certain.

Japanese website Fuji News Network first reported the potential breakthrough, citing sources in Japan’s government.

Trade beef

Negotiations had been stuck over access to the UK’s agri-food markets.

As reported previously by the IOE&IT Daily Update, there had been concerns over the UK’s accession after CPTPP members Canada and Mexico pushed for access to its domestic agricultural market, specifically for exports of beef and pork.

However, meetings between UK and Canadian officials held in mid-March appear to have gone some way to resolving the deadlock.


Joining the CPTPP has long been an ambition of successive trade secretaries, with incumbent business and trade secretary Kemi Badenoch stating that it was one of her two main hopes in terms of trade deals for 2023 – the other being an agreement with India.

Joining the bloc would be the culmination of years of diplomatic and political efforts, going all the way back to the days of Liz Truss as trade secretary when she initially commenced official talks to join in 2021.

The CPTPP represents around 13% of global GDP and includes some of the fastest growing economies in the Asia-Pacific – including Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam – as well as the South American nations of Chile and Peru.

The pact also includes Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Asia tilt

The move forms part of the government’s strategic ‘Asia tilt’ to improve economic and political relationships with nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Foreign office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan – a former trade secretary herself – re-affirmed the UK’s commitment to the region in a speech at the beginning of the year.

She said building strong partnerships in the region was “a top government priority”, adding:

“Our new prime minister and foreign secretary are currently refreshing this whole of government framework, which will set out how our Euro-Atlantic and our Indo-Pacific economies and security are inextricably bound together.”