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On March 31, 2023, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
publicly announced that the UK had completed the negotiation
agreement to join the CPTPP and thereby, will officially join the
CPTPP in the foreseeable future.
Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific
CPTPP stands for Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for
Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a free trade agreement in the
Asia-Pacific region. This Agreement was negotiated and signed in
2018 by 11 countries including: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile,
Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and
CPTPP is considered one of the largest free trade agreements in
the world, with an impact on more than 500 million people and
accounting for about 13.5% of gross domestic product. The agreement
aims to facilitate member states to make a series of commitments on
reducing tariffs, increasing investment, raising standards for intellectual property rights, protecting the
environment, and providing strict regulations on labor and culture.
With a total population of 500 million people in the CPTPP’s
member countries, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates
that with the participation of the UK, this group will contribute
15% of global GDP.
The UK’s prospect of joining the CPTPP
When announcing that Britain would join the CPTPP, British Prime
Minister Rishi Sunak said that the UK as a whole considers this to
be its largest trade agreement since Brexit. With the accession to
the CPTPP, the UK will have the ability to tighten ties with
countries in the Asia-Pacific region and thereby, be able to
self-deploy other trade cooperation without depending on the
Notably, the CPTPP will serve as an additional agreement in
addition to the free trade agreements (FTAs) that the UK currently
has with most member countries.
Typically, the UK has a UKVFTA Free Trade Agreement with Vietnam
signed on December 29, 2020 and officially took effect from May 1,
UKVFTA helps strengthen the commercial relationship between the
UK and Vietnam, especially in the context of the UK leaving the
European Union (Brexit). This agreement helps to establish
regulations and commitments on trade and investment between the two
countries, including commitments on reducing tariffs, promoting
services, protecting intellectual property rights and promoting
scientific cooperation and technology transfer between Vietnam and
Prime Minister Sunak said that Britain’s accession to the
CPTPP would significantly improve the UK’s economic interests
and for the CPTPP bloc as a whole. As expected by the British
Government, this accession will help the UK add $2.2 billion in GDP
per year, a long-term growth through tariff incentives of cars,
alcohol and dairy products, etc. that the CPTPP Agreements provide
with member countries.
The UK government said that profits will continue to increase
sharply if more countries join the CPTPP. This statement is
especially possible when a world power like the UK has joined the
CPTPP and thereby, can influence other countries to join in. In the
future, it is possible that the United States under President Joe
Biden’s regime will consider rejoining the CPTPP as the United
States announces its withdrawal from the original TPP Agreement
(Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – The predecessor of the
CPTPP) in 2017.
The UK has been studying the possibility of joining the CPTPP
since the beginning of 2018, in order to stimulate exports after
Brexit. The British government applied to join the CPTPP from 2021
and since the establishment of the CPTPP, the UK will be the first
new member of this organization.
In addition to the UK, some other countries that have applied
and are in the process of approving requests to join the CPTPP are:
Taiwan, Thailand, Colombia, South Korea, Philippines,
These countries are carrying out negotiations with CPTPP member
countries to set out commitments and conditions for accession.
Joining the CPTPP helps these countries strengthen their economic
ties with countries in the region and the world, while benefiting
from free trade regulations and investment protection.
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