Today I am announcing the first public consultations on future free trade agreement negotiations. As I informed the House on Monday 16 July, these consultations will provide one of a number of means by which Parliament, the Devolved Administrations, the public, business, civil society and trade unions can have their say on the Government’s approach to new trade agreements.
Our first consultations will seek views on free trade agreements with some of our closest strategic allies, with whom we have no existing trade agreements - the United States, Australia and New Zealand. I am also opening a consultation on potentially seeking accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Our trade and investment working group discussions with Australia, New Zealand and the United States have been constructive and the Governments of each have expressed a desire to enter negotiations with the UK. These consultations will inform our overall approach to our future trade relationship with these countries.
The US is the UK's single largest trading partner and foreign investor, accounting for £100bn of UK annual exports. UK exports to Australia and New Zealand meanwhile are growing at 14.8% and 16.8% respectively, a faster pace than our global average. And these relationships are mutually beneficial – in total, the UK imported £75.4bn worth of goods and services from these three markets.
Whilst there are other markets the UK will look to for new agreements in the future, our shared values and strength of trade with the US, Australia and New Zealand make them the right places to focus our initial attention.
The Government is also engaging with members* of the CPTPP about the possibility of the UK joining the agreement in future.
CPTPP is a signed, but not yet in force, plurilateral trade agreement including some of the world's fastest growing economies that together represent 13-14% of global GDP, and a total population of around 500m people. If the UK were to join, it would be the second largest economy in the group, and CPTPP’s coverage of global GDP would increase to around 17%.
Alongside these online consultations, which will shortly be available on gov.uk, I will be publishing information packs that set out the characteristics of free trade agreements and the nature of the current trade and investment ties with the countries in question.
The consultations will be open for 14 weeks.
* Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: