Trans-Pacific trade bloc approves UK’s request to join

Out-Law News | 04 Jun 2021 | 1:02 pm | 1 min. read

Member countries of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will allow the UK to start the joining process.

The counties made the decision in the fourth meeting of CPTPP Commission which was hosted by Japan on Wednesday.

"The United Kingdom’s potential membership would support the mutual interests, common values and commitment to upholding the rules-based trading system shared by the members of the CPTPP," said a statement. "It would also promote market-oriented principles and help to counter protectionism and the use of unjustified trade restrictive measures."

The UK’s international trade secretary Liz Truss said the decision "will help shift our economic centre of gravity away from Europe towards faster-growing parts of the world and deepen our access to massive consumer markets in the Asia Pacific”.

Dr. Totis Kotsonis, an expert in international trade at Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: “UK accession to the CPTPP, bringing together some of the more dynamic and fast-growing economies in the world, will create additional opportunities for UK businesses as the country seeks to expand its global role and involvement with trading arrangements which shift the focus away from the EU, important though that relationship will remain.” 

“Although the group does not provide for the deep single market and customs union integration of the EU, it is nonetheless important, as it involves commitments which go beyond the near-complete elimination of tariffs for goods, and extends to commitments in cross-border trade in services. With the accession of the UK, the bloc could, in due course, become an even more influential trading hub, setting international rules and standards in areas such as digital trade and cross-border data flows,” he said.

“The fact that the UK is clearly not in the Asia-Pacific region is not an issue.  The rules of the club permit any country to become a party to CPTPP Agreement, subject to its parties giving their consent, and the accession candidate country agreeing to comply with the existing rules of the club and negotiating market access commitments with the CPTPP Parties, ” he said.

The CPTPP removes tariffs and reduces barriers for 98% of exports to its 11 member countries including Japan, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, Chile and Malaysia.

The UK made a formal request to join the deal in February. It signed its first post-Brexit trade deal with Japan in October 2020.