Is the UK Really Interested in Joining TPP?
Government Eyeing Pacific Trade Group for Post-Brexit Move
The government of the United Kingdom has explored the possibility of jointing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Financial Times has reported.
It’s an unusual move in that the UK does not border the Pacific. But it could be part of a larger strategy to grow British exports after it leaves the European Union. It could also bolster the TPP, which is moving forward with its remaining eleven members as President Donald Trump led the United States out of the deal nearly a year ago. TPP is now called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPATPP).
Greg Hands, a UK trade minister, told the Financial Times that geography is no impediment to joining the CPATPP. “With these kind of plurilateral relationships,” he said, “there doesn’t have to be any geographical restriction.”
Joining the CPATPP could be good for British exports, because they have almost nowhere to go but up, when it comes to that region of the globe. Japan accounted for 1.6 percent of the UK’s goods exports in 2016, while all 11 CPATPP countries accounted for less than eight percent of UK goods export. Germany alone, by contrast, accounted for 11 percent of UK exports.
When it comes to UK services exports, Japan took about a tenth of what UK service industries exported to the US.
The UK’s Labour opposition criticized the government for pursuing TPP, saying that it should focus on concluding a trading relationship with the EU.
In any event, a potential UK membership in the CPATPP is still a for moving forward. The UK could not legally sign trade deals before it leaves the EU, and that is over a year off. The UK will also probably want to cement its trading relationship with the EU before it joins another trading bloc.