Britain has been accepted into a £10.9trillion trade bloc with Rishi Sunak hailing the deal for putting the UK in a “prime position” in the global economy.
The accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) was formally confirmed overnight in a telephone call between Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and counterparts from the group.
It represents Britain’s biggest trade deal since leaving the EU, with the CPTPP accounting for 15 per cent of global GDP.
Its GDP is similar to the size of the EU.
Rishi Sunak said the deal would let the UK seize the opportunities of Brexit
As well as now the UK, members of the bloc are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The US has previous also suggested it is interested in joining the group.
Sunak said the agreement demonstrated how the UK is able to take advantage of its “post-Brexit freedoms” to strike agreements that were impossible when it was in the EU which will drive economic growth across the country.
“We are at our heart an open and free-trading nation, and this deal demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms,” he said.
“As part of CPTPP, the UK is now in a prime position in the global economy to seize opportunities for new jobs, growth and innovation.”
He added that it would put the UK at the centre of a “dynamic” group of Pacific economies, giving British businesses “unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the south Pacific”.
Badenoch said on social media: “Thank you to all who worked tirelessly to make this happen, not least our tenacious UK negotiation team and of course my predecessors, the Prime Minister and fellow trade ministers.”
She added: “This is a huge moment for our country. It gives us new access to the world’s most dynamic markets, putting the UK at the heart of the Inso-Pacific region where the majority of middle-class consumers will live in the decades ahead.”
The deal was signed off during an early hours zoom meeting between Kemi Badenoch and her counterparts
However, critics have said the impact will be limited, with official estimates suggesting it will add just £1.8billion a year to the economy after 10 years.
Labour’s shadow trade secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “The Conservative Government’s track record in striking good trade deals is desperately poor.
“Other countries joining CPTPP arrangements have secured important safeguards and put in place support for their producers: it is vital that ministers set out if they plan to do the same.”