The UK aims to wrap up negotiations to join the trans-Pacific trade group by the end of 2022 and hopes that the US can be persuaded to rejoin the bloc, according to the international trade secretary.
In an interview with the Financial Times’ Payne’s Politics podcast, Liz Truss said that negotiations with the group of 11 countries was the immediate focus of the government’s “Global Britain” post-Brexit trade agenda.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership includes several fast-growing economies such as Mexico, Malaysia and Vietnam along with established regional players Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Truss said she was hopeful “we will be able to have concluded negotiations by the end of next year” to join the bloc, arguing it would enable the UK to benefit from the “huge” economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Two-thirds of the world’s middle classes are going to live in Asia by 2030 and the types of products that they’re demanding are the types of things Britain produces — whether those high value manufactured goods, quality food and drink, digital and data products, financial services,” she said.
“The EU is going to be a smaller proportion of the world economy in 20 or 30 years’ time and countries like Vietnam, or Malaysia, which are part of CPTPP are going to be a bigger share.”
Striking a trade agreement with the US is the biggest trading prize for the Johnson government, despite the challenges of differences on agricultural standards. But Truss expressed hope that UK-US trade could be liberalised if America rejoined CPTPP, which it left in 2017.
“The United States was one of the initial parties in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the new administration has not indicated they want to join it. But who knows what might happen in the future.”
Despite fears from farmers over potential compromises on standards to strike a US trade agreement, Truss said “the important principle for me is that in any negotiations I undertake, we don’t undermine British farmers with their high standards”. She added she was “very confident there is a deal to be done” with the US.
Source: Financial Times