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International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said she hoped to conclude negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement (CPTPP) by the end of next year. The £9trillion bloc has Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore among its members as well as Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.
Ms Truss said the negotiations with the bloc of 11 countries were the focus of the UK Government’s “Global Britain” post-Brexit trade agenda.
She stressed that having talks concluded by next year would allow the UK to benefit from huge” economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
The minister added: “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.”
Ms Truss said the UK needed to look for trading opportunities beyond the European Union as the economic size of the bloc is due to shrink.
The South West Norfolk MP made clear: “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.”
Ms Truss also hoped the United States would rejoin the partnership after leaving in 2017 to allow a US-UK trade deal to be brought forward.
She added to the Payne’s Politics podcast: “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.”
To ease the accession process, the UK is also looking to strike bilateral trade deals with CPTPP countries.
Ms Truss said negotiations were set to open with Canada and Mexico in the coming months.
A trade deal with New Zealand is also expected to be closed in the coming days.