The UK is to seek membership of a trade agreement between 11 countries located around the Pacific Rim including major agri-food exporters New Zealand and Australia.
The UK’s international trade secretary Liz Truss will speak to ministers in Japan and New Zealand on Monday to request to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
It is a trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Joining the bloc would see tariffs cut between the countries, increasing market access. While tariffs have been cut among the existing members, some countries have retained protections for sensitive domestic markets such as rice farming in Japan and the dairy industry in Canada.
The consequences for Irish agriculture will be determined by the access agri-food exporters can secure to the UK market, particularly beef and lamb exporters from Australia and New Zealand. This would see Irish product competing with cheaper alternatives.
Formal negotiations are set to start this year, making the UK the first country to seek membership since the partnership was created in 2018.
Truss said: “Joining CPTPP will create enormous opportunities for UK businesses that simply weren’t there as part of the EU and deepen our ties with some of the fastest-growing markets in the world.
“It will mean lower tariffs for car manufacturers and whisky producers, and better access for our brilliant services providers, delivering quality jobs and greater prosperity for people here at home.”
The EU already has trade deals with Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. It is also advancing talks with New Zealand and Australia.