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UK eyes trans-Pacific trading bloc

The UK is formally applying to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), with formal negotiations set to start this year, the government said.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss will speak to her counterparts in Japan and New Zealand on Monday morning to request joining the CPTPP, according to a statement released by the Department for International Trade.

The announcement came on the first anniversary of the country’s formal exit from the European Union (EU), and the trade department said joining the CPTPP would deepen the UK’s access to fast-growing markets and major economies, reports Xinhua news agency.

In a statement on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “One year after our departure from the EU we are forging new partnerships that will bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain.

“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.”

The development was welcomed by businesses in the UK.

Karan Bilimoria, president of the Confederation of British Industry, said: “This ambition marks a new chapter for our independent trade policy. As one of the largest free trade agreements in the world, these 11 countries contribute over 100 billion pounds ($137 billion) to our economy.”

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss

UK trade with the group was worth 111 billion pounds in 2019, trade data showed.

Effective since December 30, 2018, the CPTPP is a trade pact among 11 countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Its aggregate gross domestic product accounts for 13 per cent of the world economy.

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