The UK has reached an agreement to join a major trans-Pacific trade pact, in the nation’s biggest trade deal since Brexit.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday made the announcement to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), making Britain the first new member since the creation of the bloc in 2018 and also the first European country in the trade grouping.
“Joining the CPTPP trade bloc puts the UK at the center of a dynamic and growing group of Pacific economies,” Sunak said in a statement, adding that the deal demonstrated “the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms.”
The CPTPP is the successor to a previous trans-Pacific trade pact that the United States withdrew from in 2017 under former President Donald Trump.
The bloc currently has 11 members, including Japan, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
According to Sunak’s office, once Britain becomes the 12th member, the bloc will comprise of more than 500 million people and account for about 15% of global GDP.
The deal comes after nearly two years of intense talks as the UK looks to turn towards geographically distant but fast-growing economies in its bid to build global trade relations following its exit from the European Union.
Britain has till now struck pacts with far-flung allies, including Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, while it is in talks with India and Canada.
But a prized deal with Washington still remains a distant prospect.
dvv/sri (AFP, Reuters)