Overview of the CPTPP

UK producers would benefit from joining the CPTPP, a free trade agreement that would gain access to rapidly expanding markets in the Pacific Rim.

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between 11 countries in the Pacific Rim: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The CPTPP evolved from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposal which was a similar potential partnership between the above 11 countries and the USA. However, in 2017 the USA withdrew before the partnership was ratified. The remaining countries set up the CPTPP in 2018. There are currently no plans for the USA to join CPTPP.

According to the World Bank, CPTPP countries represent 13% of global gross domestic product (GDP) and account for 15% of global trade. In 2022, the population was estimated to be 500 million and is expected to grow over the coming decades. Not only that, but the projected increase in affluence will result in more demand for high-value products.

The CPTPP agreement covers many aspects of trade and investment. It features ambitious market-access commitments, with dedicated chapters on:

  • Technical barriers to trade
  • Sanitary and phytosanitary measures
  • Protection of the environment and labour rights

One key perk of joining CPTPP is market access and the pledge to eliminate or reduce 95% of tariffs. The remaining 5% of tariffs are retained to protect sensitive domestic markets, such as the Canadian dairy industry and Japan’s rice farming.

While joining CPTPP would put the UK in another trading bloc, this one is very different to the European Union in key respects. CPTPP is not a single market or a customs union. Therefore, the countries do not have the same standards and regulations. Also, they are able to agree on other trade deals outside the partnership.

If the UK becomes part of the CPTPP, it would be the first non-founding member to join. It would represent a major shift for the CPTPP, taking it from being Pacific Rim focused to a global profile.

In 2021 China submitted an application to join CPTPP. This could be a major opportunity for UK exports in terms of improved market access and reduced technical barriers to trade. There have also been applications from Taiwan, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Uruguay to CPTPP. Read our 2023 analysis of export opportunities for UK producers.

An accession to CPTPP by the UK has the potential to grow opportunities in all sectors. It would improve access to many overseas markets and pave the way for stronger relationships with member countries.