Rishi Sunak says ‘fantastic progress’ made in CPTPP trade bloc talks

Rishi Sunak said “fantastic progress” has been made in talks on joining an Indo-Pacific free trade bloc, amid expectations that the UK could be welcomed into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) imminently.

The Prime Minister said it was “a great benefit of Brexit” for the UK to be able to sign its own trade deals.

Britain’s accession to the £9 trillion gross domestic product (GDP) trading pact could be announced as soon as this week, it is understood.

Speaking during a visit to the UK Atomic Energy Authority in Oxfordshire on Thursday, Mr Sunak said: “We’ve made fantastic progress in the negotiations about CPTPP but we’re not there yet.

“But taking a step back, this is a great benefit of Brexit, our ability to go and sign exciting trade deals around the world.

“If we are able to accede to the CPTPP trade deal, that will be an exciting moment for the UK, great opportunity for all our businesses to export to a massive and fast-growing market and, again, just demonstrates the Government getting on with things that are going to make life better, create jobs across the country and deliver the benefits of Brexit.”

Trade ministers from the bloc are expected to meet later on Thursday to give the green light to the UK’s membership, with an announcement to follow on Friday, according to reports in multiple newspapers.

The UK would become the first new country – and first European nation – to be welcomed to the pact since its formation in 2018, joining Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Ministers say joining CPTPP could give UK businesses tariff-free access on more than 99% of goods that enter a market of around 500 million customers.