CPTPP membership sought across the board

17:46 | 12/03/2018
The United Kingdom, South Korea, India, and Russia are all potential partners who could join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
cptpp membership sought across the board
The UK is a highlight candidate for the CPTPP

The CPTPP has just been signed by 11 member countries. This is a progressive agreement, which creates an open and transparent investment and business climate, a playground for developed market economies. It significantly facilitates globalisation and international integration. The US, which withdrew from the TPP before, intends to renegotiate membership. Britain and other countries also expressed interest in joining.

Post-Brexit, Britain wants to join CPTPP

According to Financial Times, some meetings and discussions on the UK’s acceding to the CPTPP and boosting exports were held after the Brexit was decided.

Greg Hands, British Minister of State for Trade and Investment, confirmed: “There is no geographical barrier to such multinational relationships.” Then, Britain’s International Trade Minister Liam Fox also had unofficial conversations with representatives of some CPTPP country members, as well as members of the British Commonwealth, such as Autralia and New Zealand.

It is very clear that Britain has prepared carefully for the Brexit. The British economy has been dependent on the EU for a long time. Participating in the CPTPP shows the UK’s desire to look for other free trade agreements outside the EU after the Brexit takes effect in March 2019.

Talking about the participation of the UK, Nguyen Dinh Luong, former leader of the Vietnam-US Bilateral Trade Association, said that it is absolutely within the possibilities because the CPTPP creates an open market.

However, two-way trade relations between Britain and the 11 CPTPP countries are still modest, capturing only 8 per cent of total British export turnover in 2016, much lower than the US and the EU.

Additionally, there are certain challenges for the participation of Britain, a country outside the Asia-Pacific region. If Britain was added, will the CPTPP have to be renamed? How will it change? Will a large economy like Britain accept the plethora of trade concessions under the CPTPP, which could be difficult for it at the moment?

Countries lining up

Earlier, South Korea has expressed interest in the TPP that included the US. When President Trump was elected, he restarted negotiations on the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) to improve the US trade deficit between towards South Korea. However, this agreement has not been concluded after two negotiation rounds. Thereby, South Korea is considering negotiating for a place in the CPTPP.

The CPTPP goes somewhat against the interests of the ASEAN grouping, as it could divert trade between large economies like Japan and Canada towards CPTPP members outside the ASEAN, such as Indonesia or the Philippines. To prevent such strategic dilemmas, other ASEAN members also intend to join the CPTPP.

Recently, Somchai Swangkarn, speaker of the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand (NLA) said that the country is considering joining the CPTPP. Earlier, Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia also expressed intentions to join, but the withdrawal of the US prompted them to back down.

By Nguyen Huong

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