Looking East: The Case for UK Membership of CPTPP

  • In a new report for the Centre for Policy Studies, Anthony Mangnall MP makes a robust case for British membership of the CPTPP trading area
  • Mangnall and his co-authors demolish the most common arguments against joining, explaining that the CPTPP will not undermine environmental protections, workers’ rights, or health and food standards in the UK. It is also not a threat to British sovereignty. 
  • What is clear are the economic benefits to the UK of joining CPTPP (the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership). The 11-country trade bloc is equivalent to 13% of global GDP. With UK membership that will increase to 16%
  • Joining the CPTPP will see tariffs slashed on 99.9% of UK exports to CPTPP members and has the potential to boost UK GDP by £20 billion per year in the long term, as CPTPP expands
  • Being in the CPTPP will give the UK a seat at the table of a new and expanding trading bloc in a region which is home to the world’s fastest-growing economies, and help deliver on the Government’s Global Britain vision.


A new report co-authored by Anthony Mangnall MP, Luke Stanley and Elizabeth Dunkley makes the case for the UK joining the The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, better known as CPTPP, and dispels the most common objections against joining the trading bloc. 


Looking East, published by the Centre for Policy Studies, argues that the most common objections to CPTPP based on workers’ rights, environmental protection, food standards, agriculture, the NHS, sovereignty, and more do not stand up to serious scrutiny. For example, modelling by the government found that emissions would rise by a negligible 0.025% by 2035 due to increased trade with far-flung nations, but this can be expected to be offset by the subsequent changes in the economy that would boost efficiency and trade in green technology. Mangnall also points out that the idea that joining any free trading bloc puts the NHS ‘on the table’ is for the birds.


By contrast, the report argues that there are obvious and overwhelming benefits associated with joining CPTPP – a high-standards free-trade agreement adopted by 11 leading economies including Australia, Canada, Japan and Vietnam.


The economic benefits of CPTPP include a boost to GDP of an initial £1.8 billion a year, which could reach £20bn as CPTPP expands. However, these estimates are, by the Government’s own admission, very likely to be significantly below the real figure. Economic analysis shows that all nations and regions of the UK will benefit from increased trade, with Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North among the areas that will benefit most – a boost for the Government’s levelling up and pro-Union agendas. 


The CPTPP is also a gold-standard agreement when it comes to digital trade. The UK’s participation will help promote UK interests as a global leader in the ever-growing digital trade sector.


Being at the heart of an expanding CPTPP would bring not only economic benefits but geopolitical ones too, putting the UK at the centre of a growing economic region, providing support for our allies and challenging China’s low-standards approach to free trade in the region.


Indeed, rather than viewing membership of CPTPP as an end point in itself, the UK should see accession to the agreement as a starting point from which to build new high-standards partnerships with its members on a range of issues. It therefore fully endorses the Government’s decision to seek accession to the CPTPP, and urges for this to be a top priority for Britain’s independent trade policy.


Anthony Magnall MP, co-author of the report said: 

Joining the CPTPP would be overwhelmingly good for Britain. The benefits to accession are clear; an economic boost to the whole of the UK and geopolitical support to our allies across the world. And the arguments against joining simply do not stack up. The CPTPP does not reduce our high standards nor strip away our sovereignty. Instead, it serves to raise standards globally, and gives the UK a prominent role in shaping the future of trade. Acceding to the CPTPP is the first step on the road to Global Britain. ’