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Foreign Policy

UK passes first step to join Pacific trade bloc

LONDON — U.K. Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan will tour three Asian nations next week after Britain passed a crucial hurdle to join an 11-nation trade bloc.

It was confirmed last night that the U.K. had passed the first stage of the accession process for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, meaning its overall approach to trade was approved.

It means London moves on to the second and final phase of the process, the actual negotiations on market access to the trade group.

“CPTPP is one of the largest and most exciting free-trading clubs in the world,” Trevelyan said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is a major milestone for us joining this dynamic group of economies and means the finish line is in sight.”

She will visit Indonesia, Japan and Singapore next week to oversee the launch of the negotiating process. 

The trade department claims CPTPP is a £8.4 trillion market. Britain hopes to join before the end of 2022 as part of its wider foreign policy agenda to deepen ties with the Asia-Pacific region. 

CORRECTION: This article has been updated to correct the trade department’s estimate of the value of CPTPP accession.

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