CPTPP: what is Indo-Pacific trade bloc, who are its members, founding countries - is UK joining?
The UK is set to join the trade agreement and become the first non-founding member
After making progress on the Northern Irish protocol by introducing the Windsor Framework, Rishi Sunak is lining up another pivot away from the European Union with a brand new trade deal.
The UK Prime Minister will sign a new trade pact with the established CPTPP trade bloc. This would give Britain access to the Indo-Pacific region as it looks to expand its trade away from the EU.
The move to include the UK in the deal would be significant for a number of reasons. The trade bloc has never admitted a non-founding member to be a member of its bloc, with Japan - the largest economy in the group - backing the UK's application.
It is believed that the agreement and UK's membership will be announced on Friday 31 March. It comes after Sunak recently made commitments to the AUKUS security agreement with Australia and the US, platforming the UK as a global player.
What is the CPTPP?
The CPTPP stands for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. It was created as a succeeding agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership after the US backed out under President Donald Trump in 2016.
The founding members signed the final agreement in Santiago, Chile in December 2018. The pact is a free trade agreement which will give exporters and importers in the member countries unique opportunities with businesses from fellow member countries.
Which countries are members of the CPTPP?
In total there is 11 founding members of the CTPP. Those countries are:
Japan is considered to be the leading member of the group after the US backed out of the agreement in 2016. The UK was approved for formal ascension in March 2023 after negotiations with the CPTPP commission.
Other countries within the Indo-Pacific region have also announced their interest in joining. China, Taiwan, Ecuador, Costa Rice, Uruguay and South Korea have all made steps towards joining the group, while Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Columbia have all stated their interest.