The Trade (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)) Act has received Royal Assent. 

The government has stated that this will allow the UK to be in a position to join the CPTPP later this year. The accession treaty was signed in July 2023.

The CPTPP is a free trade agreement covering various areas, including trade in goods and services (including financial services), investment (including provision for investor-state dispute settlement), digital trade, government procurement, competition policy, subsidy control, intellectual property, labour and environmental standards, and state-to-state dispute settlement. It currently has 11 parties: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The UK already has free trade agreements with most of the members of the CPTPP but the government's expectation is that accession to the CPTPP will deepen those existing arrangements, with more than 99% of UK goods exported to the bloc being eligible for zero tariffs. Accession is also expected to facilitate the export of services, in particular digital services and data flows, to the bloc. British companies will be able to operate in the bloc without having to establish a local base. Reduced tariffs on imported goods could also lead to cheaper prices for consumers in the UK on certain products.

The government will now seek to pass technical secondary legislation to ensure the UK is ready to ratify its accession to CPTPP as soon as possible. Other parties also have to complete their domestic processes to ratify UK accession (six being needed for the agreement to enter into force), with Japan and Singapore having already completed this.

The UK's accession has been controversial due to the fear of products being imported which have lower food safety standards than UK products do. In addition, accession will add only a small amount to UK GDP, compared with the significantly larger loss of GDP arising out of the UK's leaving the EU. However, some businesses may find their path eased to trading in the bloc.

More information abut the CPTPP is here.