U.K. begins talks to join Asia-Pacific CPTPP trade treaty

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U.K. begins talks to join Asia-Pacific CPTPP trade treaty

The U.K. is beginning negotiations to join a free trade alliance with Asia-Pacific countries, a key part of its attempts to pivot trade away from Europe after Brexit.

Britain will hold virtual talks to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), strengthening trade links with the 11 countries in the group, which represent a market of 500 million people.

The existing members of the trade alliance are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The U.K. already has trade deals in place with eight of the CPTPP members. 

The U.K. government has said a deal with the group would open new markets for Britain’s service industries, while lowering tariffs on exports of goods such as cars and whisky.

British exports to the 11 members of the CPTPP will increase by 65% to £37 billion (US$51 billion) by 2030, according to government estimates. It said U.K. trade with CPTPP member countries grew by 8% annually between 2016 and 2019.

“This part of the world is where Britain’s greatest opportunities lie. We left the EU with the promise of deepening links with old allies and fast-growing consumer markets beyond Europe,” the trade minister, Liz Truss, said. “It is a glittering post-Brexit prize that I want us to seize.”

Under the overarching CPTPP treaty, the vast majority of barriers to trade including tariffs and quotas are removed, and are only retained in a few very sensitive areas, for example offering protection to Canada’s dairy industry and allowing Japan to keep tariffs on rice.

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