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Ministers said today talks were intensifying over formal membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The £9trillion bloc has Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore among its members as well as Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.
Updating the House of Lords on progress for membership, Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said officials and ministers were “pleased with the rate of progress” being made on joining the partnership.
Addressing the International Agreements Committee this afternoon, he added: “The CPTPP is a high standards agreement, it’s part of the attraction for us to join it.
“It’s in our interest to meet these standards [required for joining] and to ensure future applicant countries meet them also.”
Currently, trade officials are showing CPTPP member states how they can meet strict high product standards associated with joining the bloc.
The UK will then take part in crunch market access negotiations expected to last several months.
Graham Zebedee, director for Indo-Trade negotiations and development at the Department for International Trade said officials would be “going at it at a good pace in the autumn.”
A source close to International Trade Secretary Liz Truss told Express.co.uk there was some confidence a deal could be secured soon to “catapult the UK ahead on the world trade stage.”
They added: “This agreement is an important opportunity to catapult the UK ahead on the world trade stage and help Britain prosper after leaving the European Union.
On specific benefits, Lord Grimstone said the UK’s membership will also “open up new opportunities for our world-class farmers.”
However, concerns were raised by former health secretary Lord Andrew Lansley that the introduction of certain generic medicines into the NHS could be delayed through the deal, which Lord Lansley claimed could cause NHS medicine prices to surge.
But Lord Grimstone said: “In our negotiations to join the partnership, we will not accept any outcome that would delay generics from entering the market and therefore increase the cost of medicines for the NHS.
“We have set out this position clearly in our public negotiation objectives.”
Unlike the European Union, the CPTPP also does not require the UK to sign up to identical regulations and standards as other organisations.
There is also no equivalent to the European Court of Justice, which can slap fines on member states accused of breaking EU rules.
In order to ease the accession process, the UK is also looking to strike bilateral trade deals with CPTPP countries.