The United Kingdom has struck a deal to join the CPTPP free trade area spanning Asia and the Pacific, a move that has been well received by New Zealand exporters.
The UK announced the conclusion of trade talks with member countries of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), an 11-member trading bloc that accounts for around 12% of global gross domestic product.
The UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement will be the primary vehicle for NZ exporters to access the market, but having the UK join the CPTPP gives it more clout.
“It’s a very positive thing. It makes the trade bloc bigger and stronger, and it also shows the value of the bloc,” said Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva.
The 11 members of the CPTPP represent a population of more than 500 million people. It will account for 15% of global GDP once the UK completes accession.
Former diplomat Charles Finny said: “It is important as it adds weight to CPTPP and having the UK as a member will encourage others to join. Having a like-minded member will be helpful when dealing with new applicants.”
Since it came into force in 2018, six economies have formally applied to join the CPTPP, including the UK, China, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), Ecuador, Costa Rica and Uruguay, according to the NZ foreign affairs and trade ministry.
Other economies, such as South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, have publicly expressed interest in joining.
The UK’s accession will complement the recently signed UK-NZ FTA, which is expected to come into force later this year, according to a statement from the British High Commission in Wellington.
“The CPTPP agreement reaffirms this partnership, complementing and reinforcing the enhanced bilateral trade agreement we have already signed,” said Iona Thomas, British High Commissioner to NZ.
It will also help ensure shared UK-NZ priorities in maintaining the rules-based international trading system, something Karapeeva also said is critical.
NZ is currently chair of the CPTPP, hosting a year-long programme of meetings and events.
The UK’s accession will provide opportunities to collaborate on NZ’s priority areas as CPTPP Commission chair for 2023, the High Commission said.
MFAT has said its objectives include advancing ratifications and accessions and the effective and improved implementation of CPTPP.