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The CPTPP is a high-quality free trade agreement which binds together Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, Malaysia, Peru, Chile and Brunei. It covers nearly 14 percent of the global economy. The earlier incarnation of the partnership, the TPP, was originally conceived as an economic pillar supporting former US President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia”.
However, US participation was scrapped by President Donald Trump on his third day in office.
With Democrat Joe Biden soon replacing him in the White House, many are hoping things could change.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, though, Australian Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz has invited a surprising group of countries to join: the EU.
He said: “All members would be in favour of it, I think.
“On the face of it, I can’t see a problem with it if it is a mutual benefit for everybody.
“In the EU, they are all democratic nations without too many human rights issues.
“As a result, having a deal between us would only be a good thing.”
In another interview with Express.co.uk, Government trade adviser Shanker Singham echoed Senator Abetz’s claims, but explained why it would be impossible for Brussels to join in the immediate future.
Mr Singham, the CEO of economic consultancy Competere, said: “The game is in the Indo-Pacific, that’s for sure.
“I think it would be fantastic to get the EU into the CPTTP, but they would not be able to join at the moment.
“With their approach on agriculture and standards, it is impossible for them to accede.
“This doesn’t mean they can’t change their approaches.”
He noted: “It would be good for the world if they did and I am hopeful that somebody in the EU trade department is trying to figure out what to change in order to become an accession country.”
EU membership to the CPTPP would be seen as highly ironic, as Britain, who has tried hard to distance itself from Brussels, is hoping to access the partnership this year.
International Trade Secretary Liz Truss spent most of 2020 negotiating trade deals with several countries around the world.
In December came agreements with Canada, Kenya, Singapore, Vietnam, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, to make a combined total of over 50 such deals, including Japan, Mexico, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam and Switzerland.
As Ms Truss said, though, some of these agreements were “part of a much wider strategic investment for the UK”, taking Britain a step closer to joining the CPTPP.
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According to Mr Singham, Britain will send its accession letter within months.
The trade expert said: “The UK will certainly join.
“We expect to have our accession letter very shortly with the New Zealand depositary.”
When asked when exactly that will be, Mr Singham said: “As soon as it can be done.
“I am thinking very early 2021.
“But that’s the letter, which is the first step of the process.”
However, according to the trade expert, Britain should not worry about the forthcoming negotiations, as the CPTPP members are desperate for London to join.
He said: “I know the Japanese, Australians, Singaporeans… they all want the UK to accede and so do the Canadians and Mexicans.
“They are all desperate for it.”