Truss said UK membership would send “a powerful signal about the importance placed on free trade"

Truss said UK membership would send “a powerful signal about the importance placed on free trade"

The UK has formally requested to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade pact as it looks to secure trade links with Asia-Pacific following its departure from the European Union (EU).

In a letter to Damien O'Connor, New Zealand's Minister for Trade and Export Growth, UK International Trade Secretary Liz Truss formally requested the commencement of negotiations on the UK's accession to CPTPP.

"Accession to CPTPP is a priority for the UK government and a key part of our trade negotiations programme as a newly independent trading nation," the letter read. "CPTPP is one of the most important free trade areas in the world and UK accession could see CPTPP's proportion of global GDP rise to 16%. UK membership would also be the first step in expanding this influential and modern trade network of 11 dynamic economies beyond the Indo-Pacific region and Americas."

Truss said UK membership would send "a powerful signal about the importance placed on free trade by this dynamic group of countries at this critical time in our history."

"CPTPP membership will complement and reinforce new and enhanced bilateral trade agreements we have already signed or are negotiating now – with Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. We believe our strong bilateral trade relationships with CPTPP members, including with Brunei and Malaysia, provide an effective springboard to our CPTPP accession," the letter continued.

The UK is expected to publish its outline approach, scoping analysis, and response to its public consultation before it begins negotiations.

In October, the UK officially sealed its first post-Brexit trade deal, after signing an economic partnership agreement with Japan in a move that will cut tariffs on nearly 99% of products traded between the two countries.

Japan is the UK fashion and textile industry's third-largest export market after the EU and the US. For many brands, especially those manufacturing in the UK, Japan is the number one export market and the first market to buy their products, according to the UK Fashion & Textiles Association (UKFT).