UKs bid to join £9trn trade bloc could be confirmed within days

UK ‘pleased with progress on CPTPP’ says Lord Grimstone

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Britain’s bid to join a £9trillion trading bloc could be confirmed within days, according to reports. Negotiations have been continuing for the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The trading bloc stretches across the Indo-Pacific and is made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Politico cited three people familiar with the talks as saying the UK is set to reach an agreement in principle in the coming days to join the 11-country club.

A well-placed diplomat from one CPTPP member nation said they had their “fingers crossed” for this week.

Meanwhile, a senior business figure said the Government had been briefing that a deal is expected soon.

The Department for Business and Trade did not comment on the state of negotiations.

A spokesperson said: “Joining CPTPP could see UK businesses being eligible for tariff-free access on over 99 percent of goods exported to a market of over 500 million customers, creating new opportunities for modern industries like tech and services and supporting high-value jobs across the UK.

“We intend to join on terms that work for the UK’s interests and domestic priorities, and look forward to concluding negotiations at the earliest opportunity.”

A Government official said Britain is still “talking to 11 different countries, all with different asks and needs”.

CPTPP accession would be a huge win for Rishi Sunak after he struck his Brexit deal on Northern Ireland with the EU this week.

Another diplomat from a CPTPP nation said members were “watching those negotiations”.

It comes after Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch last month visited Mexico to hold talks with counterparts about the UK’s accession to the CPTPP.

At the time, the Department for Business and Trade said Britain was “nearing the final stages” of talks to join the £9trillion gross domestic product (GDP) trading bloc.

Ms Badenoch said: “We will add £2trillion to the bloc’s GDP when we join, taking it up to 15 percent of the world’s GDP, and will add a strong voice promoting free trade and defending against protectionism on the global stage.”

The CPTPP was launched in 2018 and the UK is the first non-founding country to apply to join.

Britain applied in early 2021 as part of its post-Brexit foreign policy shift towards the Indo-Pacific.

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