Despite being formally signed in 2023, the UK’s entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) only officially takes effect from 2024, following the completion of domestic legal processes by the UK Parliament. Joining the CPTPP is considered the UK’s most significant trade agreement since its departure from the European Union (EU) in 2016. Prime Minister Sunak regards this agreement as a crucial milestone in the history of the UK.
Participation in the CPTPP may open up new opportunities for the economic growth of the UK. It is seen as one of the most significant efforts to mitigate the negative impacts of Brexit. As part of the UK’s strategy to build a global image distinct from the EU, the country is actively seeking economic and diplomatic opportunities worldwide.
Initially focusing on a trade agreement with the United States, given its status as the world’s largest economy, negotiations faced challenges, particularly concerning sensitive issues such as healthcare markets and food safety standards. As a result, the UK shifted its attention towards the Asia-Pacific region, a rapidly developing economic area with ample investment opportunities. The CPTPP, comprising 11 countries across four continents, became a target market for the UK in the current context.
While the direct economic benefits for the UK and CPTPP members in the near future are relatively limited, joining the CPTPP reflects policy trends and contributes to portraying the UK as a globally independent and free-trade nation post-EU.
The CPTPP economies collectively account for around 13% of global GDP, with the participation of Japan, Canada, Australia, Mexico, and several other nations. The expansion of the membership further creates positive prospects for development. Joining the CPTPP helps integrate the UK deeply into the global supply chain and share benefits with the Asia-Pacific region.
In recent years, regional economic cooperation, primarily through free trade agreements, has become a driving force in establishing new international economic and trade rules. The CPTPP is a significant manifestation of this new generation of agreements.
In 2019, data from the UK indicated that for every 100 British workers, one was employed by businesses owned by CPTPP member countries, equivalent to over 400,000 jobs across the UK.
British Ambassador to Vietnam, Iain Frew, commented: “I am delighted that the United Kingdom has signed the agreement to join the CPTPP. The total trade volume between the UK and Vietnam recently reached £6.9 billion, a 29% increase from the previous year. I believe that the UK’s accession to the CPTPP will further strengthen bilateral trade growth.”