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International trade minister Liz Truss has formally commenced talks to join the powerful CPTPP Asia Pacific trade bloc today, after the 11 members earlier this month agreed to consider the UK’s admission to their club.

Truss will speak with Japan’s minister for TPP Yasutoshi Nishimura, the government has announced, with UK ministers calling the talks a “landmark moment for the UK as an independent trading nation”. 

The government estimates that British exports to the CPTPP area will increase by 65% to £37bn by 2030, reports the Guardian. UK trade with CPTPP members grew by 8% annually between 2016 and 2019.

Tariff free trade

Membership would lower tariffs on key British exports like cars and whisky and should mean tariff-free trade for 99.9% of UK exports.

Although the FT reports that UK farmers remain unhappy about the possible effects of the trade deal with CPTPP member Australia, the government says a wider deal with CPTPP countries would give them access to 25% of the global import demand for meat by the end of the decade.

Services strength

CPTTP membership would also make it simpler for the UK to sell services digitally and make it easier for tech firms to expand abroad, playing to Britain’s strengths as the world’s second-largest services exporter.

However, the Times says membership will have a limited effect on trade as the UK has existing deals with most CPTPP members.  Bloomberg says the deal will boost the UK economy by 0.08%.

Its real value lies in a clear “political” signal of the UK’s ambition to be at the forefront of trade liberalisation, the paper claims. If the US, which pulled out of the TPP under Donald Trump, decides to join the CPTPP, it would solve the problems with animal welfare of trying for a bespoke deal with the US.

Our man in Hanoi

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab arrived in Hanoi yesterday for three days of negotiations to join the group, Sky News reports

He tweeted that he was looking forward to discussing trade at the start of a visit to South-East Asia “to discuss the UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt”.

Parliament is due to debate the CPTPP this Thursday (24 June).