LONDON — The U.K. formally announced plans to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said Britain has explored membership in discussions with the 11 nations that make up the pact and “we are now moving to the formal stage.”
“Joining the agreement would show the rest of the world we are back as a proud, independent nation prepared to look beyond our own shores,” Truss told the House of Commons today.
She added that as the U.K. recovers from the economic hit from the coronavirus, “hitching ourselves to the fastest-growing part of the world will help deliver on the growth and prosperity we urgently need.”
It comes after the government announced it will start talks on free-trade agreements with New Zealand and Australia — both of which are members of the CPTPP. The U.K. sees those deals as a stepping stone to joining the wider pact.
Britain has also launched talks with Japan, another member, and has either agreed rollover deals or plans to launch direct talks on agreements with all the other nations except Malaysia and Brunei.
Together, these countries accounted for 0.37 percent of U.K. trade last year.
“The businesses I speak to around the country simply cannot understand why the government is spending so much time and effort trying to negotiate international trade deals of relatively low value when it is yet to secure our continued trade with Europe,” the Labour Party’s Shadow International Trade Secretary Emily Thornberry told the Commons.
But Truss said accession to CPTPP would go further on cutting tariffs with member nations than existing EU deals with some of them do.
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