London, April 01 (IANS) The UK has signed a deal to join a trade pact with 11 Asia and Pacific nations, three years after it officially left the European Union, BBC reported.
Joining the group will boost UK exports by cutting tariffs on goods such as cheese, cars, chocolate, machinery, gin and whisky, the government said.
However, the government’s own estimates show being in the bloc will only add 0.08 per cent to the size of the UK’s economy.
The trade area covers a market of around 500 million people, BBC reported.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) was established in 2018, and includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Membership of the CPTPP loosens restrictions on trade between member countries and reduce tariffs – a form of border tax – on goods.
Together, the 11 members account for about 13 per cent of the world’s income and after 21 months of negotiations, the UK has become the first European country to join, BBC reported.
The government said the agreement is the UK’s “biggest trade deal since Brexit”.
However, the gains for the UK from joining the bloc are expected to be modest. The UK already has free trade deals with all of the members except Brunei and Malaysia, some of which were rolled over from its previous membership of the EU.
But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the deal demonstrated the “real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms”.
“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. British businesses will now enjoy unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the south Pacific,” he said.
Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said the agreement is like “buying a startup”, BBC reported.