First round of official talks to enter the UK into the trans-Pacific trade bloc deal will kick start on Tuesday, Sept. 28 as members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will assemble to hold discussions via a virtual conference. UK had applied to join the trans-pacific trade bloc agreement in February, exactly a year after Brexit, and had already met with the CPTPP’s UK Accession Working Group remotely, as per the Department for International Trade’s release. In June, the CPTPP had announced that the accession process would begin shortly. 

The International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan hailed the initiative as a “big milestone on our [UK] path to joining CPTPP”. Trevelyan replaced the South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss a few weeks ago in UK’s cabinet reshuffle as she has now been appointed as secretary of state for the foreign, commonwealth, and development affairs replacing Dominic Raab. Truss had held the role as secretary of state for international trade and president of the Board of Trade for the UK previously and had met to discuss the UK’s application with CPTPP Accession Working Group when the process was underway.   

“CPTPP deal will allow us to forge stronger links both with old friends and some of the world’s fastest-growing economies,” Trevelyan said in a statement. “Joining this high-standards partnership will provide real opportunities for UK exporters and service providers and help our innovators open up new, diverse markets,” she said.

“Seizing opportunities like this is exactly what Global Britain is about and will help bring high-quality jobs and prosperity to every region of our country.”

UK’s Trade minister Penny Mordaunt is expected to make an official trip to CPTPP countries Chile and Peru to accelerate the process, the statement by DIT accessed by the British press revealed, as well as the sources familiar with the development. Mordaunt is expected to meet with Chile’s minister of agriculture Maria Emilia Undurraga and her Peruvian counterpart Roberto Sanchez as well as businesses from the region.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had called the initiative significant as it would forge “new partnerships that will bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain”. Joining the 9 trillion-pound partnership will cut tariffs for the UK’s trade sector and demonstrates “our ambition to do business on the best terms with our friends and partners all over the world and be an enthusiastic champion of global free trade”, he had explained during the application in a press briefing.

CPTPP agreement explained

The CPTPP is a free trade agreement between 11 Pacific rim nations – Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, and Canada. It came into effect on December 30, 2018 with an aim to give the member states better access to each other’s markets and also to eliminate import tariffs by as much as 95 percent. While Japan is the largest economy in the group, countries like China and Britain have increasingly shown interest in joining the club.    

In addition to import benefits, the pact also obliges member states to cooperate on regulations, such as food standards. However, it is imperative to note that, unlike the European Union, CPTPP is not a single market and therefore, members are not required to have identical market standards and regulations. Moreover, all the members are also allowed to ink trade pacts with other countries, like the recent AUKUS deal that involved Canberra inking a deal with the US.