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Why is UK Joining the Asia-Pacific Trade Bloc?


The UK will be the first European member to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).


In a ground-breaking move, agreement was reached in March for the UK to join the CPTPP. Membership of the Asia-Pacific trade bloc will help to lower trade barriers to this important region, which is expected to play an increasingly significant role in the global economy.


port at sunset
Tariff-free trade with CPTPP countries will boost our economy, support new jobs and drive economic growth

Businesses across the UK will benefit from free trade, with 11 dynamic countries expected to make up the majority of global growth in the coming years. The agreement ensures British businesses can enjoy unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the South Pacific.


What is the CPTPP?

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is an Asia-Pacific trade bloc currently made up of 11 countries:

  • Australia

  • Brunei Darussalam

  • Canada

  • Chile

  • Japan

  • Malaysia

  • Mexico

  • New Zealand

  • Peru

  • Singapore

  • Vietnam


Other countries, including China, have applied to join or have expressed an interest in doing so. The UK will be the first new member since it was established in 2018 and is the first European member to join.


Why is the UK joining?

With 500 million people in this dynamic region, tariff-free trade with CPTPP countries will boost our economy, support new British jobs and drive economic growth over the coming years.


While the UK already has bilateral trade agreements with nine of the CPTPP members, those with Australia and New Zealand are not yet in force. We don’t yet have agreements with Brunei Darussalam or Malaysia. Our trade with this region is already significant; in 2022, the UK exported £60.6 billion of goods and services to the CPTPP countries (7.8% of the UK total) and imported £50.2 billion (5.9%).


Our membership in the CPTPP is expected to bring a wide range of benefits, including:

  • cutting tariffs on goods exports

  • new opportunities from diversifying supply chains

  • opening new markets for UK service providers

  • improved data flows

  • a trade deal with Malaysia for the first time

  • more access to high-quality consumer goods

  • strengthening economic security

  • encouraging investment



What is the reaction from UK businesses?

“At first glance, this looks to be good news for UK businesses”

British Chambers of Commerce


“A win for the UK”

Institute of Directors (IoD)


“Benefits will be more strategic than material”

TechUK


“It could provide some good opportunities to get more fantastic British food on plates overseas”

NFU


Are there any concerns?

The IoD cautioned that the economic gains were likely to be limited and that trade agreements “generally do not shift the dial”. Various organisations have expressed concerns about the resulting implications for environmental standards, farming and food safety. However, the government has confirmed that food imports will continue to comply with UK import standards.

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