TPP Members Agree on Britain’s Membership

REUTERS/Phil Noble
Union Jack flag flies above a Unionist mural in Larne, Northern Ireland December 30, 2020.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan, Australia and other members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreed on Friday to admit Britain as its 12th member, expanding the free trade bloc beyond the Pacific region.

Britain will be the first new member of the deal that came into force in 2018. Its entry will expand the value of trade among TPP economies to $7.7 trillion from $6.6 trillion at present.

Britain’s membership is “very significant in promoting free trade, open and competitive markets, a rules-based trading system and economic integration beyond the Pacific region,” Shigeyuki Goto, minister in charge of economic revitalization, told reporters.

“This deal demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement. Joining the trade bloc puts Britain “at the center of a dynamic and growing group of Pacific economies,” he said.

Britain filed for TPP membership in February 2021 following its exit from the European Union in 2020.

Officials from the 11 TPP members and Britain are expected to sign off on the country’s membership at a meeting in July. Britain’s membership is subject to ratification by the TPP members.

The TPP sets rules on a wide range of areas, including investment and e-commerce. Members are required to reduce tariffs on agricultural and industrial products.

In 2016, the TPP agreement was signed by 12 nations including the United States, which later withdrew from the deal. It entered into force with the remaining 11 countries in December 2018.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference that the United States should return to the TPP from the strategic standpoint of its involvement in an international order in the Indo-Pacific.

In addition to Britain, China, Taiwan, Ecuador and two other economies have applied for TPP membership.