Brexit Britain Pushing to Join Major Pacific Trading Bloc in 12 Months

Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss arrives to attend the weekly cabinet meeting held at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London on October 20, 2020. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom is embracing its freedom from the EU and forging new partnerships, with the international trade secretary saying Brexit Britain could join a major trading bloc in as little as one year.

In September, the UK signed its first historic trade agreement as an independent nation with Japan, the world’s third-largest economy. The UK also is said to be making “rapid progress” on a New Zealand trade deal and has agreed on “the vast majority” of a free trade agreement with Australia, representing a reforging of trade ties with Commonwealth allies without the intercession of Brussels.

The UK-Japan trade deal was considered an important step towards joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a gateway for enhanced British business and trade in the Pacific. The UK applied to join CPTPP in January, the month it left the EU’s institutions.

Speaking to The Telegraph on Sunday, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss hopes that CPTPP membership can be agreed on in the next 12 months, saying: “That part of the world is growing very fast. One of our strategic ambitions is to reach beyond Europe and to trade more with the fastest growing parts of the world.

“Australia is a key economy in the Asia Pacific that is part of the CPTPP, which we’re currently applying for entry to. Doing this deal with Australia is another stepping stone to CPTPP accession.”

CPTPP is the world’s third-largest free trade area comprised of 11 countries spanning from Australasia and South East Asia to the Americas: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The Australia deal is set to be signed at the G7 summit in Cornwall, England, this June. It is significant as it is the first trade deal to be written from scratch, with the Japan deal largely based on EU-Japan arrangements. The Australia deal could be used as a template for future bilateral trade agreements, speeding up similar deals with other prospective global partners.

Ms Truss said of the deal: “This is a very exciting moment for the UK. This will be our first deal that we’ve negotiated from scratch, since we left the European Union, and it’s a major step forward for global Britain.

“Australia is one of our greatest allies — they are friends and family to the United Kingdom. It is a comprehensive deal. It covers all of the UK economy and the Australian economy that’s going to bring more jobs and growth to both our countries.”

The UK has already signed trade continuity agreements with Canada and Mexico and a free trade agreement with Viet Nam.

However, London failed to agree on a deal with Washington before the end of Donald Trump’s presidency. While former President Trump was an avid supporter of Brexit and signing a trade deal with Britain, current President Joe Biden was not keen on Britain regaining her freedom, with insiders suggesting a bilateral trade agreement between the allies may not happen until at least 2024.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage criticised the recent Tory governments for failing to sign a U.S. trade deal while an Anglophile president was in office, saying in November: “The Conservatives had 4 years to do a trade with the USA and [a] pro-UK President, and they failed.”

Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the UK’s oldest conservative think tank The Bow Group,had warned in May 2020, before the U.S. presidential election, that an Anglo-American trade should have been an “absolute priority” and criticised the Conservative government for being “foolish, petty, and short-sighted” for not engaging Farage, a friend of Donald Trump, in trade talks.

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