Opportunities for the UK business were bolstered in early February after ASEAN member state Malaysia officially joined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), meaning British businesses will get better access and lower tariffs in the Malaysian market when the UK joins the trade bloc.
The UK is currently working to become the first European member of the bloc this year and negotiations are progressing well, the UK government said in a statement on 6 February.
Malaysia is one of the CPTPP members with which the UK does not currently have a bilateral free trade agreement. The UK and Malaysia both joining CPTPP will greatly increase the UK’s access to the Malaysian market and could increase the £2.9 billion worth of exports the UK currently sells in the ASEAN member state, the UK government says.
Separately, the UK is making good progress in negotiating its own accession to CPTPP. UK accession could mean more than 99% of UK exports to member countries become eligible for tariff-free trade.
The UK formally requested accession to CPTPP on 1 February 2021, and on 2 June 2021, the CPTPP Commission agreed to formally commence accession negotiations with the United Kingdom.
CPTPP consists of 11 countries in the Asia Pacific and Americas, namely Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The countries part of the CPTPP trade bloc had a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of £9 trillion and were home to over 500 million people in 2021.
CPTPP membership not only offers significant direct opportunities for UK exports, but it could also act as a gateway to the wider Indo-Pacific region, which is expected to account for the majority, or 56 percent, of global economic growth between 2019 and 2050.