UK faces problems over joining Pacific trade pact, say experts

A report by academics has questioned the feasibility of the UK joining the free trade Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) if it does a Brexit deal with the European Union along the lines proposed by Prime Minister Theresa May.

UK faces problems over joining Pacific trade pact, say experts
In an essay published by the Policy Exchange think-tank, the British government is warned that its proposed, post-Brexit trade agreement with the EU would limit its ability to reach free trade deals with other blocs around the world.

At the heart of the TPP

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said recently that the UK should break new ground and be at the heart of the world's fastest growing region and be part of the TPP, which has been renamed Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal.The 11-member partnership currently includes some of the world's fastest-growing economies such as Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Singapore, with South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand among countries expected to join soon.The agreement reduces 95 per cent of tariffs along with other barriers to trade, Mr Fox said. "For the first time in over 40 years we will be able to determine who we trade with and on what terms," he added. "It makes sense to start thinking about our negotiating priorities for the future and thinking about them now."

CPTPP membership unlikely

But the Policy Exchange report quoted experts who warned that Mrs May's proposal for a free trade deal with the EU on agricultural and manufactured goods would make CPTPP membership unlikely.Geoff Raby, former Australian ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, told the report's authors, "By aligning UK policy to EU policy on agriculture and manufactured goods, the white paper will constrain the opportunities that the UK has to pursue an independent trade policy.
"Without being able to participate fully in the agricultural and manufactured goods dimension, it is most unlikely that the UK would able to join, but if it did it would not be able to get the full benefits of the CPTPP."Alexander Downer, Policy Exchange chairman and former Australian high commissioner to the UK, said Britain would be "a welcome addition" to the CPTPP, but said the ratification process had already seen difficult negotiations to ensure that the Japanese agricultural sector was included in the agreement."The Chequers agreement shows a desire for the UK to remain closely tied to the EU for manufactured and agricultural goods," he added. "In essence it says you want to be free to sell the things you're good at and protect less competitive areas of your economy."As the Policy Exchange paper highlights, the process of ratification has been difficult for some - Japan, for example, experienced heavy resistance from its agriculture sector."Having fought such battles to secure the comprehensive nature of CPTPP, it is unlikely that the UK will be accepted without meeting the same obligations."

Focus on the worldwide opportunities

Warwick Lightfoot, one of the essay's authors and a former special adviser to several Conservative chancellors, added, "Leaving the political relationship with the EU should not result in a more closed outlook on the world."Instead the UK should focus on the opportunities in the wider world if we adopt a more free trading approach which exposes our domestic market to greater competition and challenge."Responding to the report, a Department for International Trade spokesman said, "As set out in the white paper, the UK will pursue an ambitious bilateral trade agenda after leaving the European Union, taking full advantage of the flexibility its proposal for the future economic partnership provides."As we undertake further work to understand the opportunities CPTPP presents for UK consumers and businesses, we are seeking the views of members of the public, interested bodies and stakeholders."We also continue to engage with key partners internationally, to gain a better understanding of the process for applying for CPTPP membership."Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre© 2018. This article first appeared in the 2018 edition of the Guide to Education & Schools in the UK, published by Profile Locations, Spray Hill, Hastings Road, Lamberhurst, Kent TN3 8JB. All rights reserved. This publication (or any part thereof) may not be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission of Profile Locations. Profile Locations accepts no liability for the accuracy of the contents or any opinions expressed herein.

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