Heather Wheeler supports the UK’s moves to join the Trans-Pacific free trade area.

The Trans-Pacific free trade area is one of the world’s largest and most dynamic free trade areas. As Britain looks to the future, we are keen to work with other nations that champion free and fair trade. The UK has taken a major step towards joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnerships (CPTPP), some of our oldest allies and commonwealth friends are part of this agreement. By joining it would open doors and create new opportunities for businesses, creating more choice for consumers and boost our economic security.

I firmly believe that joining the CPTPP would be of great benefit, putting us at the centre of a network of free trade deals with dynamic economies, helping us become a hub for international businesses. Since 2009 trade between us and CPTPP countries has grown on average by 6% every year and was worth £112 billion in 2019. By securing our membership it will increase our economic strength and help us become more resilient to future crises as we become more diverse.

International Trade Secretary, Liz Truss, alongside the current chair of the CPTPP Commission, Mexican Economy Minister Graciela Márquez, opened discussions between senior UK trade officials and Chief Negotiators from all 11 members of the Partnership to discuss potential UK accession.

This is the first time the UK has met with Chief Negotiators from all 11 members of the Partnership to discuss UK accession, and the first time CPTPP members have had such a discussion with a country seeking membership since the Partnership was created in 2018.

Outside of this meeting we have already seen fantastic progress in negotiations with Japan, and begun negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, additionally, we have also resumed negotiations with Canada. Securing free trade would prove a massive boost economically but also strengthen our relationship with our international allies.

I engaged in talks in Japan and Vietnam earlier and am really pleased that we are now at this exciting stage of the negotiations.

I look forward to seeing these negotiations progress and fully support the aims and ambition to become a member of the CPTPP.