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On 22 June, UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss began negotiations with Yasutoshi Nishimura, the current chair of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The trade partnership currently represents around 500 million people and includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. CPTPP membership accounted for 13% of global GDP in 2019, and if the UK joined it would rise to 16%. Truss asserted that the move sends a powerful message in the post-Brexit landscape that the UK “as an independent nation, will continue to champion free and fair trade, fight protectionism and slash tariffs at every opportunity.” Possible benefits of the UK’s accession are outlined below.
This move would help Britain find a trade niche as an exporter of luxury goods and professional services to fast-growing economies in the Indo-Pacific. The accession would make 99.9% of exports eligible for tariff-free trade, and in a strategy report, the government anticipates a surge in exports of the UK’s most popular consumer goods, including cars, whisky, cheese and textiles.
Whilst the report makes it clear that the NHS and its services are not on the table to trade, the UK’s accession would give rise to opportunities in the wider healthcare technology sector. The CPTPP is privy to modern rules on digital trade, which would allow the UK to expand successful healthtech businesses abroad. The UK gained an insight into these benefits following its recent entry into a trade deal with Australia, a country that imports around 80% of its medical devices and spends 10% of its GDP on healthcare. With similar statistics from other members of the CPTPP, the UK’s coveted healthtech companies could experience a boom in business.
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