Britain to apply for membership of Asia-Pacific free trade bloc

Britain to apply for membership of Asia-Pacific free trade bloc

Vietnam's Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh (L) and Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz
Vietnam's Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh (L) and Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss finalised a free trade pact which will see 99 per cent of tariffs eliminated once it is fully implemented. (Photo: AFP/Nhac NGUYEN)

LONDON: Britain will apply to join the Pacific free trade area, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the UK said Saturday (Jan 30), under its post-Brexit plans.

Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss is to formally request UK membership of the free trade bloc, which represents 11 Pacific Rim nations including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico and Vietnam, on Monday.

The application to join the CPTPP will come one year after Britain formally left the European Union following more than 40 years of membership.

Negotiations between the UK and the partnership are expected to start this year, the trade department said.

"One year after our departure for the EU we are forging new partnerships that will bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain," British 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," he added.

READ: Japan aims to expand CPTPP trade pact as UK, China eye membership

Truss, who has touted the prospect of British membership of the bloc as the UK agreed post-Brexit trading arrangements with Japan and Canada among other members of the CPTPP, said joining would offer "enormous opportunities".

"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," she added.

The CPTPP was launched in 2019 to remove trade barriers among the 11 nations representing nearly 500 million consumers in the Asia-Pacific region in a bid to counter China's growing economic influence.

The United States, one of the major proponents of the Pacific bloc under former president Barack Obama, withdrew from the partnership under the Trump administration before it was ratified in 2017.

Source: AFP/nh

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