On 31 March 2023, the UK announced that it will join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), joining 11 jurisdictions (including Mexico, Japan, Canada and Australia) across the Asia-Pacific region and becoming the first European country to do so. While the UK already has existing bi-lateral trade agreements with 9 of the 11 CPTPP jurisdictions, the biggest benefits will arise as other jurisdictions join the bloc (with applications to join by jurisdictions including China, Taiwan and Ecuador already submitted).
Changes coming and benefits to business
Opening new markets
While the UK has existing bi-lateral agreements with 9 of the 11 CPTPP members, the agreement will introduce agreements with Brunei and Malaysia. The modern approach of the CPTPP will also ease restrictions for UK service providers to member jurisdictions with the reduction of red tape and ability for UK businesses to operate on par with local firms. This includes the removal of the requirement to establish local offices or be resident to supply services and instead, UK businesses will be able to partner with local firms. Service providers will also have greater certainty on licensing processes.
The CPTPP will also remove barriers UK companies are facing in the digital trade sphere. Particularly those with respect to data localisation requirements and data transfers between the UK and CPTPP members. The purpose of this is to support efficient manufacturing and supply chain functions and create more reliable infrastructure.
Tariff reduction on UK exports and trade facilitation
More than 99% of UK goods exported to CPTPP member jurisdictions will be eligible for zero tariffs. This includes key UK exports such as dairy, machinery, alcohol and cars.
Tariff reduction will be particularly seen in the new agreement with Malaysia, with key industries such as whisky and cars benefiting from reductions of up to 80% and 35% respectively.
Member jurisdictions are committing to clear timeframes for releasing goods where all requirements are met, with the aim of goods clearing customs within 48 hours of arrival. Advance rulings on customs valuation, tariff classification and origin must also be issued as quickly as possible and within 150 days with a validity of at least 3 years (where details remain unchanged). The UK will be bound by the advance ruling requirements and this should facilitate the implementation of the UK’s recently announced Advance Valuation Rulings mechanism which will allow for legally binding rulings on customs valuation methodology.
Diversification of supply chain and increased access
Under CPTPP, UK businesses will be able to diversify and expand their supply chains across member jurisdictions, including by expanding where raw materials are purchased. Utilising the rules of origin, UK businesses will be able to count input from all CPTPP members in the production of goods towards meeting the requirements, thus making it easier for UK exporters to qualify for preferential tariffs agreed in Free Trade Agreements.
The agreement will furthermore provide consumers and businesses with better choice, quality and affordability of goods and this should lead to cheaper import prices for inputs into manufacturing parts.
Strengthening economic security and encouraging investment
As part of CPTPP, the UK will be party to one of the largest trading blocs globally, accounting for over 500 million people and 15% of global GDP. As the bloc continues to grow, the UK will gain access to new markets which include some of the fastest growing economies globally.
The agreement also encourages both inbound and outbound investment, with the introduction of protection for investors including access to transparent dispute settlements and supports job creation. If you’re interested in hearing more about how your business can utilise Free Trade Agreements the UK is party to please reach out to a member of the team.