James Cleverly: Foreign Secretary talks global trade deals
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British businesses could be set for a massive multi-billion post-Brexit export boost with two of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Both Malaysia and Chile have joined a prized pan-Pacific trading bloc which the UK will become a member of later this year.
It means UK firms will get better access and lower tariffs with both countries.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is one of the world’s largest free trade areas worth a staggering £9 trillion.
Ministers say Britain will be at the “epicentre of global prosperity” when we sign up.
Malaysia is one of the CPTPP members with which the UK does not currently have a bilateral free trade agreement.
But ministers insist that the UK and Malaysia both joining CPTPP will greatly increase the UK’s access to the Malaysian market and could boost the £2.9bn worth of exports we currently sell there annually.
Chile was the first country to sign a trade deal with the UK after we left the EU which secured preferential access to each other’s markets.
The South American country remains one of the foremost champions of free and open trade in the Pacific region and is keen to deepen its trading relationship with the UK, which was already worth £1.5bn in 2021.
Joining CPTPP will also provide opportunities for collaboration with Chile in areas such as fintech, green finance and cybersecurity, supporting innovation in the financial services sector.
The UK is making good progress in negotiating its own accession to CPTPP which could mean more than 99 per cent of UK exports to member countries become eligible for tariff-free trade.
Minister of State for Trade Policy Greg Hands said: “This is great news for UK businesses and global free trade. The Indo-Pacific has some of the most innovative and fast-growing economies in the world and closer ties with markets like Malaysia and Chile will demonstrate how our trade agenda is delivering for the whole of the UK.
“I’ve spent the last few days in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss our accession to CPTPP which will take the bloc from 12% to 15% of global GDP and will mean we are using our independent trading powers to bring a new, strong, persuasive voice to a network committed to free trade.”
Sheffield-based chilli paste manufacturer Mak Tok has been exploring Malaysia as a new potential market and is looking to license the brand and partner with a manufacturer in the country.
Mak Tok rose to fame after showcasing its Malaysian chilli paste and sauces on Dragon’s Den.
The business has been created around traditional Malaysian cuisine and already exports to other CPTPP member countries including New Zealand.
Mak Tok Founder Will Chew said: “Malaysia and its neighbouring countries have always been markets Mak Tok has been trying to penetrate.
“Being a part of CPTPP will accelerate our conversations with potential manufacturing and distribution partners, which will generate a new revenue stream for the business, expand our market reach and increase the movement of our products.”
Last year the UK moved into the second and final stage of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
CPTPP is made up of 11 countries in the Asia Pacific and Americas – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Earlier this year Rishi Sunak vowed Britain and Japan are “stronger than ever” after the two countries signed a historic defence agreement to allow them to deploy forces in one another’s countries.
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