UK gets green light for trade talks
Countries that are members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have agreed to allow Britain to begin the process of joining the pact, Japan’s economy minister said.
The move marks another milestone in Britain’s efforts to move away from Europe, strengthen its global influence and forge new trade ties with faster growing economies following its exit from the European Union in late 2020. .
The CPTPP removes 95 percent of tariffs between its members: Japan, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, Chile and Malaysia.
Unlike the EU, it does not aim to create a single market or a customs union, and it does not seek wider political integration.
Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters he welcomed the start of Britain’s accession process after hosting an online meeting of ministers from the 11 countries that make up the Trans-Pacific Trade Pact .
“The potential UK membership would support mutual interests, common values and a commitment to upholding the rules-based trading system shared by CPTPP members,” the 11 member countries said in a statement.
“It would also promote market-oriented principles and help fight protectionism and the use of unjustified trade restrictive measures.”
Membership is seen by UK ministers as one of many ways to boost influence in the region to help promote free trade and counterbalance China – which it accuses of undermining trade and distorting contracts with state subsidies.
The UK’s admission to the CPTPP would bring the nominal gross domestic product of the pact area back to almost the same level as that of the EU, Nishimura said.
UK Trade Minister Liz Truss said she welcomed the move and would present her plans to Parliament in the coming weeks.
Britain has yet to release its economic assessment of the benefits of joining the pact.
The process begins with the formation of a task force to assess Britain’s compatibility with the agreement. Britain has said it will work with Japan, which is chairing the group this year, to complete the negotiations as quickly as possible.
Britain made a formal request to join the trade deal in February. It will complement the bilateral agreements Britain has, or seeks, with member states. Britain struck its first major post-Brexit trade deal with Japan last October.