Japan’s Abe “would welcome” UK membership of CPTPP

Japan’s Abe “would welcome” UK membership of CPTPP

08/10/18

Indira Zahra Aridati

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stated that he would welcome the UK into the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – a trade agreement between 11 members including Australia, Canada, Japan, and Mexico, the Financial Times reports.

UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, has previously mooted the idea of the UK joining the CPTPP, saying it would “strengthen [the UK’s] trade” with the Asia-Pacific, “the engine of global growth in the 21st century.”

Abe’s remarks come as the UK enters a critical phase of negotiations on its withdrawal from the EU, and the terms of its future relationship with the bloc – the main focus of a discussion planned for the European Council Summit next week.

With negotiations between the UK and the EU stalling, the remarks were greeted with some optimism in Westminster, the BBC reports. Abe’s comments are especially likely to be welcomed by the ardent Brexiteer faction of the ruling Conservative Party, who have long argued the UK needs to be outside the EU customs union and be able to set its own tariffs, Sky News reports.

However, Abe also urged both the UK and EU to avoid a disorderly, no-deal Brexit that would have negative implications on the global economy. He expressed hope that the two parties will reach an agreement, stating that although the UK will no longer be the “gateway to Europe, it would still maintain its global strength.”

Japan is a key investor in the UK, where more than 800 Japanese firms have spent more than £40 billion and employed an estimate of 100,000 people. However, Abe also highlighted the frustrations of Japanese companies. Panasonic and Daiwa have cited the current lack of clarity over the UK-EU relationship as the primary reason for moving its European headquarters from the UK to the Netherlands.

The CPTPP is entering the final stages of negotiations, with regional ministers hoping to conclude the deal this year.

The role of CPTPP and the wider trade landscape will be discussed at Asia House’s major conference in Singapore this November. Find out more