Brexit redemption: UK’s Pacific territories poised to secure mammoth trade deal

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Yet another round of Brexit talks will take place tomorrow as around 50 British officials are expected to travel to Brussels. European Union sources expect the talks to be a round of “shadow boxing” after the UK and Brussels made concessions in the previous set of negotiations. The most recent negotiations come amid a string of previously failed meetings in which both sides have failed to reach a post-Brexit trade deal.

Over the past five weeks meetings have intensified as the transition period end date comes ever closer.

The countdown has forced both sides to make concessions, though many major details remain stalemated.

The UK signalled that it would accept the future relationship being governed by a single treaty – where previously it had insisted on a suite of separate agreements covering issues such as the trade deal and fishing rights.

Brussels, in return, finally accepted the British red line that the European Court of Justice could have no role in future UK-EU relations.

Away from a trade deal with the EU, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet is keen on securing deals elsewhere around the world.

One country, which the UK is apparently eager to strike an agreement with, is Japan – but talks there similarly stalled this month over tariffs on UK cheese.

Many have reasoned that should Britain reach a deal with Japan, the country’s chances of entering the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trading bloc may be enhanced.

The bloc consists of 11 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and would allow the UK to trade freely with some of the biggest emerging economies in the world.

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Its chances may prove favourable, Sean King, senior vice-president of Park Strategies in New York and an affiliated scholar at University of Notre Dame’s Liu Institute, told given the fact that Japan spearheads the bloc and the UK has overseas territory in the Pacific near to the country – the Pitcairn Islands.

Providing exclusive insider information from a Japanese source, Mr King explained: “Britain is an Atlantic European country but it does have the Pitcairn Islands as an overseas territory in the Pacific.

“I heard someone from Japan say that would be the hook or the excuse to get the UK in – that’s it’s only Pacific territory so that’s what it would be using as an excuse to join the CPTPP.”

Mr King went on to emphasise how several of the bloc’s countries are vital to the UK.


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He explained: “Japan is the fifth largest foreign direct investor in the UK.

“It’s the UK’s eleventh largest trading partner and also Canada, Australia and Singapore are the UK’s 18th, 19th and 20th largest trading partners respectively.

“Otherwise I don’t think any other CPTPP members even figure in the UK’s top 20 trading partners – but there’s no reason that can’t be expanded.

“Six of the eleven existing members are Commonwealth countries so that’s got to count for something too.

“Just thinking, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, those are countries with which Britain has good relations.”

Despite what appears to be an obvious alliance, the UK first has to “iron out” a post-Brexit trade deal with Japan.

Talks between the two powers stalled last week after International Trade Secretary Liz Truss requested better terms for British blue cheeses.

According to the Financial Times, Ms Truss may be looking for a symbolic victory, as sales of blue cheese to Japan from the UK were only £102,000 last year.

A better deal would enable her department to claim a more favourable deal than the one the EU secured with Japan last year, when the two sides secured a cut of €1billion (£903billion) of tariffs on food.

Dairy and other food products are among the EU’s biggest exports to Japan.

Many have also argued that Mr Johnson must first secure a deal with the EU – the UK’s biggest trading partner – before it looks abroad to make partnerships.

Taken as a bloc, the EU is the UK’s largest trading partner.

In 2019, it accounted for 47 percent of the UK’s total trade, 43 percent of the UK’s exports and 49 percent of imports.

Looking at individual countries, however, the US is the UK’s largest trading partner, accounting for a fifth of UK exports and 13 percent of imports in 2019.

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