Liz Truus has taken credit for Britain’s entry into a major trading bloc in the Indo-Pacific. The former prime minister highlighted how she was international trade secretary when the UK applied for membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in 2021.
Her statement comes as Britain is poised to become the 12th member of the CPTPP, the fastest growing trade bloc in the world.
While current trade secretary Kemi Badenoch made the formal announcement, Ms. Truss was quick to point out that the talks began during her time as international trade secretary.
It has become the final needle between Ms. Truss and her successor as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who replaced her after 49 days in what many believe was a coup.
In a statement, Ms Truss said: “As Trade Secretary, I submitted our application to join CPTPP two years ago.
“I am delighted that negotiations have been completed, deepening the UK’s access to some of the world’s fastest growing economies.
“Global Britain in action and an important counterweight to those who seek to undermine our values.
“I would like to pay tribute to all those at the Department for International Trade who have worked to make this possible.
“This is a vital development as we aim to boost UK exports to new markets and deliver additional economic growth.”
When Mrs. Truss – those dozens of post-Brexit free trade agreements during her time as international trade secretary – applied for CPTPP membership, she said it was about “fulfilling the commitment of Brexit“.
She became known as “Brexit superwoman” at the time.
She said in January 2021: “It opens up Britons to more opportunities in fast-growing parts of the world.
“And by opening up those markets, we’re giving more opportunities to UK companies.”
Ms Truss has already been highly critical of Mr Sunak’s economic policies and tax increases, which she has labeled “anti-growth”, including a huge increase in corporate tax of 6 pence in the pound to 25 pence.
The UK’s entry into the CPTPP was formally confirmed in a telephone conversation between Ms Badenoch and counterparts of the group.
It represents Britain’s biggest trade deal since leaving the EU, cutting tariffs on British exporters to a group of countries that – with the addition of Britain – will have a total gross domestic product (GDP) of £11 trillion. account for 15 percent of global GDP, according to UK officials.
Britain is the first new member and first European country to join the bloc – comprising Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – since its inception in 2018.
It follows nearly two years of negotiations, culminating in intense talks in Vietnam earlier this month, when representatives from all 11 existing members agreed to the UK joining.
It is a continuation of the post-Brexit policy “tilting” towards the Indo-Pacific region, first initiated by Boris Johnson.
Taking part is seen as a major victory by supporters of the “Global Britain” vision that Mr Johnson espoused when he was Prime Minister.
Mr Sunak said it has shown how the UK can benefit from its “post-Brexit freedoms” to make deals that were impossible when it was in the EU and that will boost economic growth across the country.
The Prime Minister said it would put Britain at the center of a “dynamic” group of Pacific economies, giving British companies “unrivaled access to markets from Europe to the South Pacific”.
Mr Sunak said: “We are an open and free trade country at heart, and this deal demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms.
“As part of CPTPP, the UK is now in an excellent position in the global economy to seize opportunities for new jobs, growth and innovation.”
Ms Badenoch said today she was “incredibly excited” about the UK’s entry into the CPTPP and the potential of the deal.
She told Times Radio: “It’s one of the biggest trade deals we’ve ever done. It’s certainly the biggest trade bloc we’ve entered since joining the European Economic Community. And what it’s going to do is open up our economy to where the new global growth is coming from.”