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‘A significant milestone for UK trade’: Britain signs deal to join £12trn Indo-Pacific trading block | Politics News

Kemi Badenoch has signed off UK membership to a major Indo-Pacific trade bloc.

The business and trade secretary signed the accession protocol to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in New Zealand on Sunday.

The move brings British businesses a step closer to being able to sell to a market of half a billion people.

Britain is the first new member to join the bloc – comprising Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – since its formation in 2018.

The UK is also the first European nation to gain entry.

It represents Britain’s biggest trade deal since Brexit, cutting tariffs for UK exporters to a group of nations which – with UK accession – will have a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of £12trn, accounting for 15% of global GDP, according to officials.

The signing is the formal confirmation of the agreement which was reached in March after two years of negotiations.

Britain and the other 11 CPTPP members now begin work to ratify the deal, which in the UK will involve parliamentary scrutiny and legislation.

Officials believe it will come into force in the second half of 2024, at which point the UK becomes a voting member of the bloc and businesses can benefit from it.

Kemi Badenoch in Auckland
Image:
Badenoch in Auckland

Before putting pen to paper in Auckland alongside ministers from CPTPP nations, Ms Badenoch said: “I’m delighted to be here in New Zealand to sign a deal that will be a big boost for British businesses and deliver billions of pounds in additional trade, as well as open up huge opportunities and unparalleled access to a market of over 500 million people.

“We are using our status as an independent trading nation to join an exciting, growing, forward-looking trade bloc, which will help grow the UK economy and build on the hundreds of thousands of jobs CPTPP-owned businesses already support up and down the country.”

Read more:
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Simon Case accuses minsters of ‘self-defeating cowardice’

To coincide with the signing, the government released figures showing that CPTPP-headquartered businesses employed one in every 100 UK workers in 2019, amounting to more than 400,000 jobs across the country.

Kemi Badenoch with Rino Tirikatene and Natalie Black
Image:
Kemi Badenoch with New Zealand MP Rino Tirikatene and Natalie Black, His Majesty’s Trade Commissioner Asia Pacific

While Britain already has trade agreements with the CPTPP members apart from Malaysia and Brunei, officials said it will deepen existing arrangements, with 99% of current UK goods exports to the bloc eligible for zero tariffs.

Dairy producers will gain export opportunities to Canada, Chile, Japan and Mexico, while beef, pork and poultry producers will get better access to Mexico’s market, according to officials.

But critics say the impact will be limited, with official estimates suggesting it will add just £1.8bn a year to the economy after 10 years, representing less than 1% of UK GDP.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy last month said the Tories were being “dishonest” by claiming CPTPP membership would make up for lost trade in Europe.

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Badenoch dismisses Brexit criticism

Officials herald the CPTPP as an alternative to the beleaguered World Trade Organisation in an increasingly fragmented international trading system.

HSBC chief executive Ian Stuart said: “The UK’s formal accession to CPTPP marks a significant milestone for UK trade, enabling ambitious British businesses to connect with the world’s most exciting growth markets for start-ups, innovation and technology.”

Some of the everyday items from CPTPP nations that will become cheaper for UK consumers thanks to the deal include Australian Ugg boots, kiwi fruits from New Zealand, blueberries from Chile and Canadian maple syrup, according to the Institute of Export and International Trade.

After the UK’s accession, attention may shift to other potential new members, with applications by China and Taiwan likely to cause tensions.

Kemi Badenoch will be appearing on the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme on Sky News from 8.30am this morning.

Boris Johnson: BBC chair made ‘significant errors of judgement’ over £800k loan | UK News

BBC chairman Richard Sharp made “significant errors of judgement” by facilitating an £800,000 loan guarantee for Boris Johnson, a cross-party committee of MPs has found.

The committee said Mr Sharp should “consider the impact his omissions will have” on public trust in the broadcaster after he failed to declare his role as a go-between for the former prime minister when applying for the chairman’s job.

The MPs also said his actions “constitute a breach of the standards expected of individuals” applying for prominent public appointments.

Mr Sharp said he did not arrange the loan but admitted introducing his friend Sam Blyth, a cousin of Mr Johnson who wanted to help the then-prime minister, to the Cabinet Office.

Richard Sharp appearing before the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
Image:
Richard Sharp appearing before the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

A spokesperson for Mr Sharp said he “regrets” not telling MPs about his association with Mr Blyth “and apologises”.

Chairman of the BBC – What is the role?

The Chairman of the BBC is the head of the BBC board – on a salary of £160,000.

They are responsible for maintaining the independence of the BBC while overseeing the functioning of the corporation to fulfill its mission.

The chairman is also in charge of the process for appointing the director-general and can dismiss the person in this role. They also act as the corporation’s most senior representative to Parliament and the government, including the devolved administrations.

Roger Mosey, a former head of TV news at the BBC, told Sky News it was a job with “two directions”.

He said while it is “the most important role for the accountability of the BBC to the public”, it is not one which is involved in the BBC’s journalism.

But Mr Mosey pointed out that it is not uncommon for the chair to be a political appointment and that this is “nothing new”.

“It was in seeking at the time to ensure that the rules were followed, and in the belief that this had been achieved, that Mr Sharp acted in good faith in the way he did,” the spokesperson said.

The strongly-worded report from the cross-party MPs on the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee suggests Mr Sharp’s actions could damage the BBC.

The same committee backed Mr Sharp’s appointment to the chairman’s job in January 2021 but was not aware of his role in facilitating the loan.

Read more: Boris Johnson becoming highest-earning MP this parliament

“Richard Sharp’s decisions, firstly to become involved in the facilitation of a loan to the then-prime minister while at the same time applying for a job that was in that same person’s gift, and then to fail to disclose this material relationship, were significant errors of judgement, which undermine confidence in the public appointments process and could deter qualified individuals from applying for such posts,” the committee said.

Timeline

November 2020:
According to the Sunday Times the loan guarantee was first suggested by Canadian millionaire Sam Blyth during a dinner with Richard Sharp.

Early December 2020:
In early December, Richard Sharp put Sam Blyth in contact with the Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case.

Late 2020:
Before the end of the year, Richard Sharp and Sam Blyth met with Boris Johnson for dinner at his country residence, Chequers. They insist the prime minister’s finances were not discussed.

January 2021:
At the start of January, the government announced Richard Sharp as the preferred candidate to be BBC chairman.

The MPs continued: “Mr Sharp should consider the impact his omissions will have on trust in him, the BBC and the public appointments process.”

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “The Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments is reviewing the competition to ensure the process was run in compliance with the rules and we will await the outcome.”