The UK is formally applying to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), it has been announced.
The CPTPP, which was formed in 2018, is one of the world’s largest free-trade areas and currently has 11 member countries including Mexico, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Peru, New Zealand, Japan, Chile, Canada, Brunei and Australia.
Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary, is to speak with ministers in Japan and New Zealand on Monday 1 February to request to join the partnership, with formal negotiations to join set to begin later this year.
The main purpose of joining the partnership is to cut tariffs, which are extra costs incurred when trading between some countries. In return, member countries must cooperate on certain regulations such as food standards and other standards of goods – though unlike the EU, the UK does not automatically need to give up control over laws or borders.
UK trade with CPTPP members was worth £111 bilion last year. The UK Government has claimed some of the other benefits to joining the partnership could include easier travel for businesspeople between CPTPP countries.
Speaking abou the announcement that the UK will be applying to join the partnership, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said;
“Joining CPTPP will create enormous opportunities for UK businesses that simply weren’t there as part of the EU and deepen our ties with some of the fastest-growing markets in the world.
“It will mean lower tariffs for car manufacturers and whisky producers, and better access for our brilliant services providers, delivering quality jobs and greater prosperity for people here at home.
“We’re at the front of the queue and look forward to starting formal negotiations in the coming months.”
The UK is the first non-founding country to apply to the partnership. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Applying to be the first new country to join the CPTPP 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.”
There have been suggestions that the United States could apply to join the partnership in the future, which would likely be welcomed by the UK.
The announcement comes a year after the UK officially left the European Union.