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Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership

Volume 721: debated on Thursday 3 November 2022

4. What progress her Department has made on securing UK membership of the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership. (902010)

Joining the CPTPP free trade area is a flagship policy of global Britain and our independent trade policy. The CPTPP covers 11 countries across four continents, and the UK joining will increase its GDP from 12% of global GDP to 15%. Some 99.9% of UK goods would enter tariff-free, and the CPTPP has groundbreaking chapters on business mobility and digital trade.

Given the potential prize of access to markets worth £9 trillion, will my right hon. Friend prioritise not only concluding the negotiations, but working with export champions—such as Captain Fawcett in King’s Lynn, which successfully sells its gentlemen’s grooming products around the world—to encourage more firms to export and to boost productivity and growth?

My hon. Friend raises two very interesting points. The first is the importance of the CPTPP, which is absolutely one of the Department’s highest priorities. The second is the importance of international trade advisers working on the ground. He mentioned his grooming products company in King’s Lynn, and I can also mention KLT Filtration, based in King’s Lynn, to which we have provided support for its Coldstream filters water-purification consumer brand business. There is a lot of DIT activity happening in his constituency in and around King’s Lynn.

It is good to be straight and frank about CPTPP—I am sure the Minister will agree—but if we are to be straight and frank, to have gains for jobs, the economy and living standards, would the Government not need 62 CPTPP deals to compensate for the Brexit economic damage? It also means being straight with small and medium-sized enterprises that they will be exporting to faraway CPTPP countries, with lots of bureaucracy and paperwork instead of tariffs. It will not be as easy as it was before Brexit. I am sure the Minister is all over the numbers, so will he confirm that CPTPP will be worth only one sixtieth of the Brexit damage?

It is always good to engage with the Chair of the Select Committee, and in my year of absence at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy I have genuinely missed him and his questioning of me at the Dispatch Box.

I am certainly going to answer the question, which is about the opportunities from CPTPP: a free trade area of 510 million people and 11 countries across four continents, with amazingly good chapters on date and digital, mode 4, an SME chapter, liberal rules of origin—all those things are great opportunities. Frankly, it is time that SNP Members started, for the first time, to support a trade deal. They opposed the trade deal with the EU; they opposed the trade deals with Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. I am hoping for the day when the SNP will, for the first time ever, support a trade deal.