Kimi Badinoch: Ignore the BBC’s shortsightedness, the TPP is a new era for Britain as it joins the most dynamic free trade family on the planet
- The UK will join the largest trading bloc since the European Economic Community
- The Indo-Pacific region is set to be home to about half of the world’s middle class
My appointment as trade minister last year didn’t force me to overcome my dislike of travel — having to negotiate deals on behalf of the UK, and fighting into the corner for UK farmers and financiers showed me the benefits of free trade agreements (FTAs).
I am proud to announce that the UK will join our largest trading bloc since the European Economic Community in 1973 – the Comprehensive and Advanced Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
British companies already have duty-free trade with our EU neighbors. Now, they can seize the countless opportunities that come from joining the most dynamic free trade family on the planet.
Unfortunately, there has been a tendency for the debate about UK participation in the trade bloc to be mired in the short term and backtrack. Much of it is rooted in myths about the UK economy.
You will hear some dismiss this deal as insufficient to replace lost European trade. Forgetting that of course, we are adding to the existing free trade agreement between the EU and the UK. Others, like the BBC in my Radio 4 interview yesterday, will claim the deal falls short, or point to a model that assumes little GDP growth.
The UK will join our largest trading bloc since the European Economic Community in 1973.
Such a shortsighted approach shows that many simply do not understand how deeply the tectonic plates of the global economy have shifted. The Indo-Pacific region is expected to be home to nearly half of the world’s 2.3 billion middle-class consumers by 2030. CPTPP’s share of the global economy is set to overtake that of the European Union in the coming decades and we’re getting there early.
We are well positioned to enter these fast-growing markets, such as Malaysia and Vietnam, and to develop deeper partnerships within the region. These close relationships will enable greater cooperation on issues critical to our long-term economic and geopolitical security.
Over time, the growing prosperity of CPTPP’s members will translate into greater influence for the group on the world stage. It will be the members of the CPTPP, much more than the European Union, who will be able to determine the terms of international trade. Within the EU, the unelected Commission insists on strict rules that bind nation-states and stifle innovation.
CPTPP has a different philosophy. Sovereign nations agree to respect each other’s rules and recognize that removing barriers leads to innovation and growth. This is a crucial advantage in a world facing a lot of uncertainty, with protectionism on the rise. Some argue that the era of free trade is dead. But our alliance will send a signal to the international community that global trade is the surest path to economic progress and political stability.
“Over time, the growing prosperity of CPTPP members will translate into greater influence for the group on the world stage.”
Along with this important geostrategic advantage, British companies will gain greater access to markets inhabited by more than half a billion people, with strong appetites for British goods and services. More than 99 per cent of current UK goods exported to CPTPP members would qualify for duty-free trade. Our world leading service companies will enjoy a significant reduction in red tape.
As an MP for a rural constituency, I regularly hear about the challenges farmers face and are not blind to how difficult it is for them. I had farmers front of mind at every stage of the negotiation, and could assure the industry that the UK would not back down on the Food and Animal Welfare Regulations because of the CPTPP.
Membership gives the UK a unique global advantage. Today we have opened a new era for this country as a trading nation.
I am convinced that we will feel its benefits in the short term and for many decades to come.