31 Mar 2023

Britain to join CPTPP Pacific trade pact this year

2:19 pm on 31 March 2023
British High Commissioner to New Zealand Iona Thomas and Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro at the Credentials Ceremony on 10 August 2022.

British High Commissioner to New Zealand Iona Thomas, with New Zealand's Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro. Photo: Supplied / Governor-General

The United Kingdom has successfully negotiated entry to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) free trade agreement.

It expects to formally sign on this year, having started negotiations to enter in June 2021.

A statement from British High Commissioner to New Zealand Iona Thomas said it was "wonderful news".

The CPTPP is a trade deal of 11 Pacific nations including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam - and, last year, Malaysia.

Together they cover a population of more than 500 million people, and accounted for 12 percent of global GDP in 2021, with the UK's accession expected to increase that to 15 percent - $21 million in New Zealand currency.

Thomas said the negotiations for the UK to join the pact finished after a fifth round of formal talks in Vietnam, with more than 150 delegates from member countries.

"This agreement encompasses some of the world's largest and most dynamic economies and UK membership will take CPTPP from an Asia/Pacific agreement to a truly global one, which improves trade opportunities with all countries in the bloc," she said.

"The UK and New Zealand have a long history of friendship, prosperity and partnership, with total trade in goods and services between the countries worth $NZ4.9 billion in 2022."

She said it would only reinforce trade between the UK and New Zealand after the bilateral trade agreement signed in February last year.

"It will also help ensure shared UK - NZ priorities in maintaining the rules based international trading system, championing the role of free and fair trade and supporting innovation and sustainability.

"The UK's accession will provide opportunities to collaborate on New Zealand's priority areas as CPTPP Commission Chair for 2023."

New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O'Connor also welcomed the news, saying the CPTPP was an important element of Aotearoa's trade agenda.

"The UK's accession to CPTPP is another demonstration of our commitment to the rules-based trading system and our desire to see the Agreement remain an open and dynamic agreement," he said.

"Having a major economy like the UK inside CPTPP brings the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific in a way that will strengthen the rules-based trading system in our region and will benefit New Zealand exporters, provide greater certainty, and enhance regional supply chains."

He said it was a "very positive step" with New Zealand set to host and chair a meeting of member nations in Auckland in July.

The UK's Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said it sent a "powerful signal" that the UK was open for business after Brexit, "using our post-Brexit freedoms to reach out to new markets, including in the Asia Pacific region, and grow our economy."

"Joining this influential trade bloc will help us to shape the rules of global trade with like-minded nations, and work even closer together on our shared priorities of prosperity, security and free and fair trade."

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