U.K. agrees to join CPTPP in post-Brexit deal

London –

The UK has agreed to join the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement which includes Canada, Japan, Mexico and Australia. This is the biggest new trade deal since the UK left the EU three years before her.

The UK government announced on Friday that it had reached an agreement after nearly two years of negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The government said accession would lower tariffs on UK dairy and other commodities, remove service bureaucracy, and boost the UK economy by £1.8 billion ($2.2 billion) in the “long term.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the deal “shows the real economic benefits of post-Brexit freedom”.

“Joining the CPTPP trade bloc places the UK at the center of the dynamic and growing Pacific economic group as the first new country and first European country to join,” said Sunak.

The deal comes at a time when the UK is pursuing an “Indo-Pacific lean” in its economic and foreign policy in response to regional economic growth and China’s growing influence on the world stage.

Critics said trade with countries thousands of miles away was trivial compared to Britain’s trade with its 27 EU neighbors. Brexit has imposed barriers on trade between the UK and the bloc, which remains the UK’s largest economic partner. The Government Budget Office said in November that Brexit had “a significant negative impact on UK trade”.

David Hennig, a trade expert at the European Center for International Politics and Economics, said joining the CPTPP would not have a big impact on the economy but would be good for the UK “overall”.

“While it doesn’t do much for us (e.g. service delivery is weak), recent trade policy is all about marginal profit and should be,” he wrote on Twitter.

CPTPP members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The United States, the world’s largest economy, has not joined the CPTTP. Former President Donald Trump withdrew the country from its predecessor, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His successor, Joe Biden, has not returned.

China, the world’s second largest economy, has applied to join, which would quadruple the group’s total population to almost 2 billion.

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