Brexit: Michel Barnier insists his ‘mission isn’t over’
On Monday, the UK will commence formal talks to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The £9trillion bloc has Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore among its members as well as Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.
Liz Truss will hold a conversation with ministers in Japan and New Zealand on Monday one year after the UK’s formal departure from the EU.
Ministers say UK trade with the group was worth £111billion last year and has grown by eight percent a year since 2016.
Joining the bloc could also make travel for business people between CPTPP countries easier because of the potential for faster and cheaper visas, they claim.
Officials also say becoming a member will allow tariffs to be abolished quicker on key UK exports including whisky and cars.
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It will also allow modern digital trade rules to be brought forward allowing data to flow freely between members, removing unnecessary barriers for businesses.
Ms Truss, International Trade Secretary, said: “Joining CPTPP will create enormous opportunities for UK businesses that simply weren’t there as part of the EU and deepen our ties with some of the fastest-growing markets in the world.
“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.
“We’re at the front of the queue and look forward to starting formal negotiations in the coming months.”
Speaking tonight, Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: “One year after our departure for the EU we are forging new partnerships that will bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain.
“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.”
Whitehall sources told Express.co.uk the move would help “catapult the UK ahead on the world trade stage.”
One added: “This is an important opportunity to catapult the UK ahead on the world trade stage and help Britain prosper.”
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A second said: “With the CPTPP, we are delivering our promises of a booming post-Brexit Britain.”
The move was tonight welcomed by business leaders who stressed it marked a “new chapter” in the UK being able to strike trade agreements.
Lord Karan Bilimoria, President of the Confederation for British Industry told Express.co.uk: “This ambition marks a new chapter for our independent trade policy.
“As one of the largest free trade agreements in the world, these 11 countries contribute over £100 billion to our economy.
“Membership of the bloc has the potential to deliver new opportunities for UK business across different sectors. “
Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Chair, said: “This is truly a world-leading agreement and one that will genuinely help small firms to thrive and succeed more than ever.”
But Emily Thornberry MP, Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary, said the advantages of joining the CPTPP will have to be “assessed once we see the terms on offer. “
She told this publication: “At present, Liz Truss cannot even guarantee whether we would have the right to veto China’s proposed accession if we join the bloc first.”
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