Britain to apply to join 11-nation Asia-Pacific free trade bloc – The New Paper

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LONDON: Britain will apply to join a 11-nation free trade bloc of Asia-Pacific countries, it announced on Saturday, weeks after leaving the European single market with its departure from the European Union.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss will make a formal request today for Britain to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a market representing half a billion people and roughly 13.5 per cent of the global economy.

The CPTPP application will come one year after Britain left the European Union following more than forty years of membership – and after five years of complex trade discussions.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the potential new partnership would “bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain”.

“Applying to be the first new country to join the CPTPP demonstrates our ambition to do business on the best terms with our friends and partners all over the world and be an enthusiastic champion of global free trade,” he said.

Negotiations between Britain and the partnership are expected to start this year, the trade department said.

Thebloc consists of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

But opposition Labour party shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry questioned the lack of transparency surrounding the pact.

After five years of debate over Brexit trade agreements, she said people would question the British government’s decision “to rush into joining another one on the other side of the world without any meaningful public consultation at all”.

“At present, Liz Truss cannot even guarantee whether we would have the right to veto China’s proposed accession if we join the bloc first,” she said.

Ms Truss said joining the CPTPP would offer “enormous opportunities”. – AFP

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