Following the entry into force of its FTAs with Australia and New Zealand, the UK continues to pursue a negotiation-focused trade agenda by signing up to the CPTPP and initiating a new FTA dialogue withTürkiye.
UK's Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP”) accession
On 16 July 2023, the CPTPP member countries1 and the UK signed the UK's Accession Protocol. This will officially add the UK as the 12th member of the CPTPP and expand the Agreement beyond the Asia-Pacific region.
Negotiations on the UK's accession concluded on 31 March 2023, when agreement was finally reached on the market access requirements that the UK will have to meet. CPTPP members aimed to set the requirements high to establish a sufficiently ambitious precedent for future accessions.2
The UK's Protocol of Accession states that entry into force will take place 60 days after all existing members of the CPTPP give notice that they have completed their domestic ratification procedures. However, if by mid-October 2024 at least six of the current CPTPP members and the UK have completed their ratification processes, the Protocol will come into force 60 days later regardless of the ratification status of the remaining members.
In the UK, ratification will involve parliamentary scrutiny of the CPTPP in accordance with the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, which sets out the procedure for treaty ratification. The UK Government has previously committed to allowing a parliamentary debate on a new FTA if one is requested by one or more of the International Trade Committee (in the House of Commons) or the International Agreements Committee (in the House of Lords) reviewing the FTA. Following a restructuring of the select committees earlier this year, the scrutiny functions of the International Trade Committee (now defunct) have been assumed by the Business and Trade Committee.
The Trade and Agriculture Commission (the "TAC") will be called on to scrutinise whether the UK's CPTPP commitments concerning trade in agricultural products are consistent with the maintenance of UK levels of statutory protection relating to animal and plant health, animal welfare and environmental protection. The TAC has already delivered positive advice on the treatment of these issues in the UK's recent FTAs with Australia and New Zealand, but the TAC will need more time to assess the agri-food legislation in force in the nine other CPTPP members. The UK Government stated that it is aiming to complete its ratification process this year.
The growing list of post-Brexit UK FTAs
Along with the accession to the CPTPP, the UK is continuing work towards several FTAs with their key markets. Negotiations on new agreements with Canada (with which the UK already has a rolled-over EU trade agreement), India and the Gulf Cooperation Council (the "GCC"), and on updating rolled-over EU trade agreements with Israel, Mexico and Switzerland continue. The UK Government is clear that its aim is to include additional disciplines to match the changing face of trade by including chapters on digital trade and other emerging technologies.
In line with the review clause in the UK-Türkiye FTA, on 18 July 2023, the UK andTürkiye announced their intent to open an FTA dialogue to modernise the agreement.
These talks seek to agree a replacement for the current UK-Türkiye FTA, which was originally agreed as a roll-over agreement to ensure continuity when the UK left the EU. The government has highlighted that a modernised agreement could build on an already strong trading relationship (worth £23.5 billion in 2022) between the UK and Türkiye, exploring new areas such as digital trade and services.3
A public call for input is expected to be released before formal negotiations begin to gather views from British stakeholders.
1 Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
2 To date, China, Taiwan, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay and Ukraine have submitted formal applications to join the CPTPP.
3 Department of Business and Trade, UK and Turkey to negotiate new trade deal. 18 July 2023, available here.
Ruth Benbow (White & Case, Knowledge Manager, International Trade) contributed to developing this publication.
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