UK One Step Closer to Joining Indo-Pacific Trade Bloc

UK poised to join Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade group later this year as the Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) Act receives Royal Assent

The UK is one step closer to joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) later this year, as the new Trade (CPTPP) Act received Royal Assent.

In July, the UK signed up to the vast Indo-Pacific trade group, bolstering its combined GDP to £12 trillion in 2022 – a huge 15% of the global economy. Under the deal, over 99% of current UK goods exports to CPTPP countries will be eligible for zero tariffs, including Scotch whisky and cars.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “I am delighted that the CPTPP Bill has become law – a major step towards the UK becoming a full-fledged member of the Indo-Pacific bloc and the many benefits that will come with that membership.

“We are leveraging our freedoms as an independent trading nation to open-up a new era of partnership with the fast-growing economies of tomorrow.  “Becoming a member of CPTPP offers brilliant new opportunities for British businesses and consumers through greater access to a market of over 500 million people – helping to grow the UK economy.

Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands said: “This is exciting news for British businesses up and down the country.

“My message to the British business community is clear – start looking now at what this deal can do for you, so you are ready to take full advantage of the brilliant opportunities it presents when the deal comes into force.”

Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce William Bain said: “Royal Assent for CPTPP is a red-letter day for our traders. UK companies will have more flexibility in their supply and manufacturing chains, easier ability to transfer data, and stronger procurement and investment opportunities in a fast-growing part of the global economy.

“We are looking forward to working with Government to ensure our firms can use these improved trading conditions to drive export growth across the other 11 members, from the Americas to Asia-Pacific.”

Director General of the Institute of Export & International Trade Marco Forgione said: “This is an important event which will help reshape the UK economy for the future. As well as trade in goods and preferential agreements on cumulation and rules of origin, entry into CPTPP opens up high growth markets to the UK’s world leading services sectors.

“The partnership with CPTPP nations in South East Asia, Central and South America can help us build resilient and robust supply chains, which are essential in an increasingly uncertain geo-political landscape where trade is being weaponised. As we’ve seen with the success of the Australia Free Trade Agreement there is tremendous demand for U.K. goods and services in CPTPP markets.”

The UK will be the first European member and first new member since CPTPP was created, which would have been impossible had we remained in the EU. Being part of CPTPP will support jobs and economic growth across the country, with every nation and region expected to benefit.

The agreement is a gateway to the Indo-Pacific, a region set to account for the majority of global growth and around half of the world’s middle-class consumers in the coming decades. It will bring new opportunities for British business, cut red tape for exporters, and support jobs.

With Royal Assent secured, the Government will now seek to pass technical secondary legislation to ensure the UK is ready to ratify its accession to CPTPP as soon as possible. The Government will then formally accept the terms signed last year with New Zealand, as CPTPP depository, by mid-July 2024.

Other Parties also have to complete their domestic processes to ratify UK accession (with six needed for the agreement to enter into force), with Japan and Singapore having already completed this. Entry into force is expected by the end of the year.