Britain struck a historic trade deal to join a vast Indo-Pacific trade bloc after nearly two years of intense negotiations. On Friday, the government said it will join the 11-member Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, unlocking access to a region with a total GDP of £11 trillion ($13.6 trillion).
The U.K. said this was the country’s largest post-Brexit trade deal and makes it the first European nation to join the CPTPP, since it came into force in 2018.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed the deal and said it puts the U.K. at the center of a dynamic and growing group of Pacific economies.
“We are at our heart an open and free-trading nation, and this deal demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms,” he said in a statement. “British businesses will now enjoy unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the south Pacific.”
Britain said the deal will cut tariffs on exports of food, drink and cars, and will grant access to a market of around 500 million people and will be worth 15% of global GDP once the UK joins the trade bloc.
The U.K. estimates joining the CPTPP will boost its economy by £1.8 billion in the long term and lift wages by £800 million compared with 2019 levels.
The trade secretary, Kemi Badenoch, said the deal sends a “powerful signal” that Britain is using its “post-Brexit freedoms to reach out to new markets around the world and grow our economy.”