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The United Kingdom joins the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Partnership

On Friday, the United Kingdom announced the conclusion of a deal to join the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Partnership after 21 months of negotiations, the most important trade deal since leaving the European Union. The Prime Minister said in a statement that the United Kingdom is the first European country to join the Association Agreement, which includes 12 countries with a combined GDP of £11 billion. Partner countries are home to 500 million people and represent 15 percent of the world’s GDP.

Highlighting the fact that it would not have been able to join the partnership if it was still a member of the EU, the Prime Minister praised the way it would “seize the opportunities” of “new trade freedoms in the post-Brexit era”.

More than 99 per cent of British goods exports to TPP member countries are now duty-free, notably products such as cheese, cars, chocolate and machinery, and alcohol.

The services sector will also benefit from streamlined administrative procedures under the agreement.

London estimates that the partnership’s contribution to the British economy will reach 1.8 billion pounds sterling, which means it will represent a small fraction of its economic activity.

In this regard, Capital Economics expert Ashley Webb explained, “This has a weak effect, given the Bank of England’s estimate of economic losses of 3.2 percent by 2026 as a result of Britain’s exit from the European Union.” “However, the deal will help improve Britain’s international relations and the UK’s view as a trading partner,” he added.

In the statement, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the United Kingdom would position itself “at the center of a group of dynamic and developing Pacific economies” by engaging in the partnership. “British companies now benefit from unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the South Pacific,” Sunak said.

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Trade Minister Kemi Patnoush highlighted the benefits in terms of employment and expanded access to the Indo-Pacific region, where “much of the global growth” is expected.

Partnership member Japan welcomed the news on Friday, with government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno describing the UK as a “global strategic partner”.

Member states and the United Kingdom must complete the final legislative and administrative steps before they can officially sign up this year.

The United Kingdom applied to join the Trans-Pacific Free Trade Partnership in February 2021. It should be noted that former US President Donald Trump withdrew his country in early 2017 before the agreement came into force.