UK aims to join Asia-Pacific free trade accord

Photo: EPA Liz Truss

The United Kingdom plans to launch negotiations to join the Asia-Pacific free trade pact, BBC reported. Those intentions are targeted to secure to businesses from Britain to "some of the biggest economies of the present and future", the government said. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) consists of 11 countries and includes Australia, Canada and Japan. Membership in the pact would result in reduction of tariffs on exports such as cars and whisky.

The trade accord will be valid for a market of around 500 million people. New Zealand, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam are also among the founder members of the trade agreement, which was established in 2018. The UK applied to join the bloc in January following the Brexit deal.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said the trade area was the "part of the world where Britain's greatest opportunities lie". Being granted membership would be a "glittering post-Brexit prize that I want us to seize", she said. Truss noted that membership would help "farmers, makers and innovators sell to some of the biggest economies of the present and future, but without ceding control over our laws, borders or money".

However, there has already been a political oposition against the UK's recently agreed free trade deal with Australia. UK farmers insist that imports from Australia could undercut them on price and undermine welfare standards.

The UK is the first non-founding country to express a wish to join the CPTPP and would be its second biggest economy after Japan, if negotiations succeed. The free trade agreement is targeted to reduce trade tariffs - a form of border tax - between member countries and includes a promise to eliminate or reduce 95% of charges on traded goods. In return, countries must cooperate on regulations, such as food standards. However, these standards and regulations do not have to be identical, and member countries can strike their own trade deals.

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