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Update: the Government has announced that negotiations for the UK’s accession to CPTPP will begin on 22 June 2021. The Government has also published its strategic case for these negotiations and consultation response.

On 1 February 2021, the UK Government formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). CPTPP is a free trade agreement between 11 countries around the Pacific Rim. CPTPP members are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. On 2 June 2021, CPTPP announced that the accession process would begin.

In 2019, UK exports of goods and services to CPTPP countries amounted to £58 billion (8.4% of all UK exports). Imports were £53 billion (7.3% of the UK total). Of CPTPP countries, Australia, Canada, Japan and Singapore are the largest UK trading partners. These four countries accounted for around 80% of UK trade with CPTPP countries in 2019.

The UK already has trade agreements with seven CPTPP members. On 15 June 2021, the UK announced that it had reached a trade agreement with Australia. Negotiations are ongoing with New Zealand.

The Government believes that joining CPTPP would increase trade and investment opportunities for the UK in a fast-growing region. It would strengthen ties with international allies and signal the UK’s commitment to free trade. Others argue that the economic gains from the deal are limited and that it could raise regulatory issues.

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