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Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership

Volume 737: debated on Thursday 14 September 2023

10. What plans she has for accession to the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership. (906377)

I signed the UK’s accession protocol to the CPTPP in New Zealand in July. We are now taking the necessary steps to ratify our accession agreement at the earliest opportunity. We expect it to enter into force in the second half of next year.

I thank the Secretary of State for her response. The CPTPP contains investor-state dispute settlement provisions which allow corporations, as she knows, to sue national Governments through a largely secretive parallel legal system if they consider that Government policies threaten their future profits. Of the new agreement member states, Canadian countries have used the ISDS particularly aggressively, bringing 65 cases, the majority of which have been brought by mining and fossil fuel firms against the energy and environmental policies of various Governments. Will the Government consider negotiating a side letter with Canada, as they already have with New Zealand and Australia, to disapply the ISDS provisions in order to ensure the UK Government’s right to regulate is not constrained by powerful investors and corporations?

We have passed the stage where we will be making any changes; we are now trying to ratify the protocol. But the right hon. Gentleman should be reassured: the Government have always been clear that when we negotiate investment protection we do so in a way that does not hinder our right to regulate in the public interest. The UK already has investment agreements containing ISDS provisions with seven of the 11 CPTPP countries and we have never received a successful claim from any investors of CPTPP countries, or in fact investors of any other country with which we have ISDS commitments.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the progress made with CPTPP. Can she outline what plans the Department has to make UK companies aware of the opportunities that the agreement opens up for them?

My hon. Friend raises an important point, because most of the time, people ask me what CPTPP stands for, let alone what it is and how they can use it—[Interruption.] Well, not my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant). We would like to make sure that people are aware of it, so they can utilise this free trade agreement as soon as it is on our statute book and ratified across the 11 countries. That is something that our export commission and support service in the Department for Business and Trade will be carrying out, and we will also be supporting MPs in their constituencies during International Trade Week to highlight opportunities that come from all our free trade agreements.