UK pressing ahead with talks for deals with India, CPTPP and GCC under new trade secretary Badenoch

Mon 10 Oct 2022
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

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New international trade secretary Kemi Badenoch may have said that she wanted to move UK trade policy “beyond trade deals”, but her department is nonetheless continuing to press ahead with negotiations for more post-Brexit deals.

The IOE&IT Daily Update here looks again at the latest state of play in the country’s talks for deals with India, the Pacific region and Gulf nations.

India slows but Asia ‘keen’ to trade

Although she is sticking to the Diwali deadline (24 October) for a free trade deal with India, Badenoch has warned that it may not include an agreement on services and claimed that she would not be rushed into signing a bad deal.

Home secretary Suella Braverman has admitted “reservations” about a deal with India on the grounds of the government’s migration policies, as India has linked freedom of movement with the success of any agreement, reports the Guardian.

Badenoch has underlined the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific region, backing up the view of foreign secretary James Cleverly that countries like Japan, Korea and Singapore were “really desperate” to do business with the UK.

The Express reports that Cleverly said they were all keen to do business with the UK on “green energy generation” and “defence and security cooperation”.

CPTPP latest

Badenoch has tweeted that Malaysia’s decision to ratify membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is “great news for our accession process.”

Malaysia is looking forward to the participation of new members such as Britain, China and Taiwan that have also officially applied to join the CPTPP, reports Nikkei Asia.

“With the eventual inclusion of more economies, particularly the UK and China into the CPTPP, Malaysian exporters will gain wider and deeper market access opportunities,” Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry said.

The UK applied to join the CPTPP in February 2021 and would be the first European country to join if successful, reports CNBC.

GCC concerns over Jerusalem embassy 

Negotiations between the UK and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) could face difficulties if the UK decides to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, reports Alaraby.

According to the Times of Israel, ambassadors from Arabic countries wrote to prime minister Liz Truss urging her against the move.

The PM told Israeli caretaker leader Yair Lapid about a “review of the current location” of the embassy.

While Israel views Jerusalem as its capital, most of the international community regards the final borders of the city as dependent on peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

As previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update, the UK opened negotiations with the GCC this summer for a free trade agreement (FTA) that would be worth an extra £1.6 billion a year to the UK economy.

Sahara dispute

A UK-Morocco trade agreement is being challenged in the English High Court by campaigners who argue it was concluded without obtaining the consent of people from the disputed Western Sahara territory, reports the Evening Standard.

The deal, concluded in October 2019, succeeds an EU agreement with Morocco and provides a “preferential rate of import duty to goods originating in Western Sahara subject to controls by customs authorities of Morocco”.