The government has announced that it will apply to become a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade area made up of 11 nations.
International trade secretary Liz Truss will tomorrow make a formal request to join the group, which includes countries such as Australia, Canada and Japan.
“One year after our departure for the EU we are forging new partnerships that will bring enormous economic benefits for the people of Britain,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.
In all, the area covers a market of around 500m people, producing more than 13 per cent of the world’s income.
The free trade arrangement, properly know as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was formalised in 2018.
It is made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The US had been meant to be a member of the club, but former President Donald Trump took the country out of negotiations when he came to power.
If it joins the bloc, the UK will be the first non-regional country to join the partnership.
It already has trade deals with the majority of the TPP’s members, and is in negotiations with Australia and New Zealand over similar arrangements.
According to the Department for International Trade (DIT), UK trade with the group was worth £111 billion in 2019, growing by 8% a year since 2016.
Commenting on the news Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer, TheCityUK, said, “The UK’s application to this significant free trade area sends the clearest signal yet that Britain is determined to make the case for open global markets and trade, and to be ambitious and outward-looking in its trade and investment policy.
“Joining the CPTPP will allow the UK to work with its other members on key priority areas for services industries such as ours, including data, cross-border payments, and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications.
“The British services industry is world leading, and offers a mutual benefit for the rapidly growing middle class in the region.
“Moreover, joining CPTPP offers a further platform to make the case for open markets and the liberalisation of services trade, a significant prize for the UK and the global trading system.”