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British bid for CPTPP membership more about regional geopolitics than trade

Ng Qi Siang
Ng Qi Siang 6/25/2021 07:00 AM GMT+08  • 7 min read
British bid for CPTPP membership more about  regional geopolitics than trade
The spectre of Brexit looms large over the talks.
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When the UK voted to leave the EU, bullish brexiteers framed the move as an opportunity rather than an economic tragedy. No longer would Britain’s fate be tied to the “bloated bureaucracy” of Brussels, they proclaimed. Instead, “Global Britain” would take its place on the world stage, taking advantage of its post-Brexit flexibility and agility to build new economic ties with economies around the world — particularly those of rapidly growing Asia.

And the UK has taken its first step in this new direction. On June 2, the 11 member states of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreed to begin Britain’s accession process to the regional trade pact. They noted positively the UK’s experience with high-standard trade and investment rules, clear commitment to promote transparency, as well as predictability and confidence in the rules-based trading system.

“We note that the United Kingdom’s potential membership would support the mutual interests, common values and commitment to upholding the rules-based trading system shared by the members of the CPTPP. It would also promote marketoriented principles and help to counter protectionism and the use of unjustified trade restrictive measures,” said a Joint Ministerial Statement on June 2 regarding the British accession request.

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