Consultation on the UK potentially seeking accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

Closed 26 Oct 2018

Opened 20 Jul 2018


The UK is preparing for an independent trade policy once we leave the EU. We want to maximise our trade opportunities globally and across all countries – both by boosting our trading relationships with old friends and new allies, and by seeking a deep and special partnership with the EU. The UK aims to pursue an ambitious bilateral trade agenda, taking full advantage of the flexibility provided by our proposal for the future economic partnership (as set out in the White Paper on 'The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union' on 12 July).

As part of this the UK will have the opportunity to negotiate, sign, and ratify Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) during the implementation period and to bring them into force from January 2021.

In this context, the UK will potentially seek accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

These agreements could enable increased trade and investment, secure access for UK exporters to the key markets of today and the future, give consumers access to a greater range of products at lower prices, and make the UK more innovative, competitive and prosperous.

Trade agreements aim to reduce trade barriers between countries. Barriers can be taxes charged on goods as they cross borders (tariffs), or different rules and regulations that can add to trade costs (non-tariff measures). Trade and investment barriers make it more difficult and costly to trade or invest overseas. Reducing these barriers can help the flow of goods, services and money for investment between countries, and help businesses to access markets they previously weren’t able to. Consumers can benefit from access to a greater variety of products at lower prices. 

Trade agreements do not prevent governments from regulating as they see fit, and they also do not require governments to privatise any services. The UK Government is committed to maintaining our high standards for consumers, workers and the environment, and to protecting our public services, in any future trade agreements that we conclude.   

Trade agreements also have wider benefits. These can include:

  • Boosting economic growth in the UK by encouraging more competition, investment and innovation.
  • Contributing to global prosperity, by boosting economic growth in countries that the UK does business with through international supply chains.
  • Increased global prosperity supports social cohesion within and between countries, and in turn political stability, which is one of the building blocks of our collective security.
  • Some trade agreements can particularly benefit developing countries – trade can be a vital tool in boosting developing countries’ economic growth and reducing poverty, while also providing UK consumers and businesses with goods at competitive prices.
  • Trade is also an instrument of foreign policy and some countries use trade policy (including trade agreements) to advance standards and values.

The Department for International Trade is preparing for possible negotiations as the UK Government considers seeking accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) after the UK leaves the EU on the 29th March 2019. The UK Government is consulting with members of the public, businesses, trade experts, and any other interested organisations to help inform this work.  

This initial consultation will inform our overall approach to our future trade relationship with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). If we launch formal negotiations to accede to the CPTPP, we will also engage on specific issues as negotiations progress.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), is a signed, but not yet in force, trade agreement between 11 countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam). It is an ambitious and relatively deep trade deal with a bloc of countries representing 13-14% of the global economy and covering 500m people. Trade with CPTPP member countries covers approximately 7% of UK trade.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) comprises a 30-chapter text, with core provisions and annexes setting out any carve-outs to the core provisions negotiated by founding members. CPTPP accession could deliver a range of economic and strategic benefits for the UK. It has the potential to expand in the future, potentially bringing in many more countries from the Asia-Pacific region in the long term. For CPTPP accession, the UK would need to enter into discussions with representatives from countries who are part of CPTPP, setting out its own detailed commitments to all CPTPP members (as listed above).

Any decision for the UK to seek accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) would aim to build on our existing trade and investment relationships with the countries that are parties to that agreement, benefiting all of our economies – whilst ensuring that we meet our international obligations and maintain our high standards of consumer, labour, animal and environmental protection. 

The UK Government has published an information pack to be read in conjunction with this consultation: Information note on CPTPP

As well as setting out the rationale for free trade agreements and the provisions they typically cover, this pack gives an overview of trade and investment between the UK and the current membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The full text of the CPTPP is also publicly available, and a link to it is provided below:

Please note, this consultation will close at 23:59 on 26 October 2018.

What Happens Next

This consultation has now closed. The Department for International Trade is now considering responses. A response to this consultation will be published in due course.