The UK is planning to complete negotiations to join trade alliance the Trans-Pacific Partnership by the end of next year, Liz Truss has said.
In an interview with the FT, the international trade secretary said that the talks were government’s immediate priority for its post-Brexit trade agenda.
She said that joining the alliance would enable the UK to take advantage of the region’s economic growth.
“Two-thirds of the world’s middle classes are going to live in Asia by 2030 and the types of products that they’re demanding are the types of things Britain produces — whether those high value manufactured goods, quality food and drink, digital and data products, financial services,” she said.
“The EU is going to be a smaller proportion of the world economy in 20 or 30 years’ time and countries like Vietnam, or Malaysia, which are part of CPTPP are going to be a bigger share.”
Back in January the UK announced that it had applied to join the 11-country alliance.
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.