Thu, 05 Aug 2021

LONDON, England: Britain is set to initiate negotiations for joining the trans-Pacific free trade pact that would allow its businesses access to distant, but fast-growing markets beyond Europe.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is made up of Japan, Canada, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, Chile, and Malaysia.

"This part of the world is where Britain's greatest opportunities lie. We left the EU with the promise of deepening links with old allies and fast-growing consumer markets beyond Europe," trade minister Liz Truss said, as quoted by Reuters.

"It is a glittering post-Brexit prize that I want us to seize," she added.

Though joining the agreement, which aims to cut 95 percent of tariffs on goods traded between members, would add just $2.5 billion to Britain's economy over the long-term, it would open access to markets for its legal, financial and professional services sectors.

Britain's leaders are looking at the agreement as a way to increase influence in a region where China's economic clout has been growing.

The deal would also allow Britain to supplement present or potential trade deals with larger members and emerge as an exporter of premium consumer goods and professional services.

According to the government, cars and whisky exports would benefit the most from its joining the trade pact.

But real gains would come if Thailand, South Korea, and the United States also join the bloc. So far, US President Joe Biden has not revealed plans for joining the partnership.

To gain membership, Britain would need to prove whether and how it can meet the group's standards on removing tariffs, as well as liberalizing trade regulations.

"The CPTPP agreement has strong rules against unfair trade practices, like favoring state-owned enterprises, protectionism, discriminating against foreign investors and forcing companies to hand over private information," the British trade department said in a statement.

"The UK's joining will strengthen the international consensus against such unfair practices," it added.

Unlike the EU bloc, the CPTPP does not seek to impose laws on members, create a single market or customs union, or push for greater political integration.

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