On 22 June, UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss began negotiations with Yasutoshi Nishimura, the current chair of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The trade partnership currently represents around 500 million people and includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. CPTPP membership accounted for 13% of global GDP in 2019, and if the UK joined it would rise to 16%. Truss asserted that the move sends a powerful message in the post-Brexit landscape that the UK “as an independent nation, will continue to champion free and fair trade, fight protectionism and slash tariffs at every opportunity.” Possible benefits of the UK’s accession are outlined below.
This move would help Britain find a trade niche as an exporter of luxury goods and professional services to fast-growing economies in the Indo-Pacific. The accession would make 99.9% of exports eligible for tariff-free trade, and in a strategy report, the government anticipates a surge in exports of the UK’s most popular consumer goods, including cars, whisky, cheese and textiles.
Whilst the report makes it clear that the NHS and its services are not on the table to trade, the UK’s accession would give rise to opportunities in the wider healthcare technology sector. The CPTPP is privy to modern rules on digital trade, which would allow the UK to expand successful healthtech businesses abroad. The UK gained an insight into these benefits following its recent entry into a trade deal with Australia, a country that imports around 80% of its medical devices and spends 10% of its GDP on healthcare. With similar statistics from other members of the CPTPP, the UK’s coveted healthtech companies could experience a boom in business.
ABHI: Boost to Healthtech as UK-Australia Trade Deal is Announced Boost to HealthTech as UK – Australia Trade Deal is Announced (abhi.org.uk)
Commons Research Briefing: The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – House of Commons Library (parliament.uk)
Department for International Trade: UK Accession to CPTPP: The UK’s Strategic Approach UK Accession to CPTPP: The UK’s Strategic Approach (publishing.service.gov.uk)
Department for International Trade: Launch of negotiations for accession to the CPTPP question and answer by Lord Grimstone of Boscobel Written statements – Written questions, answers and statements – UK Parliament
Government Press Release: Britain launches negotiations with £9 trillion Pacific free trade area Britain launches negotiations with £9 trillion Pacific free trade area – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Government World news story: UK and CPTPP nations launch formal negotiations UK and CPTPP nations launch formal negotiations – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Reuters Business: Britain begins negotiations to join trans-pacific trade deal by William James Britain begins negotiations to join trans-Pacific trade deal | Reuters
Relocate Global: Businesses applaud UK bid to join CPTPP by David Sapsted Businesses applaud UK bid to join CPTPP | David Sapsted | Relocate magazine