Tomorrow, I will be presenting our formal letter of application to New Zealand and Japan to join them in one of the world’s largest trading areas: the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Global Britain is not resting on its laurels after a year as an independent trading nation – we are picking up speed.
We are stepping up as G7 President this year to rally an alliance of like-minded democracies in the fight for free and fair trade. We are speaking up at the World Trade Organisation for global rules fit for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. And we have a great deal with the EU, alongside agreements covering 63 countries.
Our trade policy is about the future, but also the here and now. We are now moving decisively towards joining the dynamic CPTPP trading area. I will be pushing on negotiations to secure opportunities for British businesses in the vibrant markets of its 11 members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam.
Turbo-charging trade with these economies, which cover nearly £9 trillion of world GDP, will be key to fuelling our economic recovery by supporting jobs and growth for our key industries in every region and nation of the United Kingdom.
This high-standards pact removes tariffs on 95 per cent of goods traded between members, provides deeper market access for services – of which we are the second largest global exporter, and cutting-edge rules for digital trade. That will play to our strengths as a world-leading services and technology hub, with fantastic food and drink and advanced manufacturing industries.
We will be able to sell more to growing Pacific markets full of consumers craving the best of Britain, whether it’s an Aston Martin classic car, a dram of Bell’s Scotch Whisky, or an innovative service like Deliveroo.
This means businesses will have more money to invest in their staff and commercial future. The benefits will be felt across the country, from the Dundee game developers behind Minecraft to the Solihull carmakers building Land Rovers.
We will be able to enjoy the full benefits of CPTPP without having to compromise on our sovereignty, our borders or handing over cash to join. This club is all about free trade, and nothing else.
We are only able to seize this golden opportunity as an independent trading nation. No longer constrained by the EU, a newly nimble Global Britain is free to go further and faster.
The UK is already the first Western nation to start vaccinating people against Covid-19. We are the first new country to apply to join CPTPP since it was set up in 2018. Countries such as South Korea, Thailand and Colombia are queuing up to join.
We can be proud that Global Britain is at the front of the queue. It is testament to our preparedness for the negotiations and our close relationships abroad. I have already held discussions with all 11 members – a first for any aspiring member – which shows how seriously they are taking our candidacy.
We will negotiate firmly but fairly in the interests of the British people. Our red lines are well-known: the NHS remains off the table, as do our world-class standards – from food and animal welfare to the environment and data protection.
Together with like-minded allies, we can take on unfair practices such as forced labour and forced technology transfer, which give free trade a bad name. In doing so, we will demonstrate how much better things should be.
Trade is not just an economic boon, but an insurance policy against future shocks. As we have learnt from the Covid crisis, diverse supply chains are vital. We must always have friends to supply vital goods, whether food or PPE.
CPTPP is an exciting club of sovereign nations, and I believe more will want to join. By positioning Global Britain as the first new entrant, we are helping shape the rules and will reap future rewards.
We are out in the world once again championing free and fair trade, driven by our fierce belief that this is the best way forward. This is Global Britain in action. Joining CPTPP will help build a better trading system for us all.