UK considering joining the recently introduced agreement aiming to promote free trade in the Pacific

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a free trade agreement that has been agreed for Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It came into effect on the 30th December 2018 for seven of these countries that have ratified it.

Some of the aims of the agreement are to eliminate 95% of tariffs on goods trade between the member countries, improve the trade tensions in the region and reduce the distorted trade measures placed on goods to and from these countries.

Chapter 26 of the CPTPP regards transparency and anti corruption, including the requirement of member countries to facilitate high-quality health care and continued improvements in public health for their nationals. Principles for this regarding pharmaceutical products and medical devices are outlined, including promoting their research and development, ensuring timely and affordable access and ensuring appropriate and objective valuations.

Chapter 18 of the CPTPP also sets out standards for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights including patentable subject matter, patent term adjustment allowances for unreasonable granting authority delays or unreasonable curtailment, protection of undisclosed test or other data, biologics, term of protection for copyright and related rights, technological protection measures, rights management information, protection of encrypted program-carrying satellite and cable signals, legal remedies and safe harbours.

The CPTPP is based on the previously negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which included the United States until their withdrawal from the process in January 2017. The CPTPP has suspended a number of items that had been included in the TPP, such as some regarding intellectual property and pharmaceuticals.

The CPTPP member countries make up £95bn of the UK’s trade. The UK is currently considering joining, which would allow the UK to benefit from the membership and be involved in forming future aspects of the agreement. The Department for International Trade is reviewing the UK’s involvement, which has support from member countries.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox has stated:

“Joining CPTPP would cement our strong economic ties with old friends, like Canada and Japan, as well as establishing new links with some of the world’s fastest growing economies… We know from our recent public consultation that UK businesses want to join CPTPP as it would help them to expand into new markets and capitalise on the growing demand for quality British goods and services… This agreement will also help to promote free trade against a backdrop of heightened tensions in the global trade system. It is in all of our interests to ensure an open and rules-based trading system wins out and that a trade war in the Pacific does not hit British households in the pocket.”

The UK government’s press release is available here.

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Published on 4. January 2019 in News, News UK