The UK has announced that it will join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a major Asia-Pacific trade partnership that includes 11 other countries. This marks the UK’s biggest post-Brexit trade deal following almost two years of negotiations. The CPTPP, which was created in 2018, will include over 500 million people and account for 15% of global GDP once the UK becomes its 12th member. The UK will be the first European country to join the bloc, and its admission after 21 months of negotiations puts the country “at the heart of a dynamic group of economies”, according to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office. The CPTPP is the successor to a previous trans-Pacific trade pact that the US withdrew from under former President Donald Trump in 2017. Its members include Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei.
The UK applied to join the CPTPP in February 2021, and talks began in June of that year. The remaining members must reach a consensus for a new country to enter the partnership. The UK has been trying to strike bilateral deals to boost its international trade since it left the EU’s single market in 2021. It has so far inked agreements with countries including Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, and is in talks with India and Canada. However, a prized pact with the US remains stalled. The UK’s admission to the CPTPP is expected to boost its economy by £1.8 billion ($2.2 billion) over the long-term, according to estimates cited by Sunak’s office. More than 99% of UK goods exported to member countries will now be eligible for zero tariffs, including key British exports such as cars, chocolate, machinery and whisky. The UK’s services industry will also benefit from “reduced red tape and greater access to growing Pacific markets with an appetite for high-quality UK products and services”.