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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
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.”

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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
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.

British airline Flybe ceases all trading and cancels scheduled flights | UK News

British airline Flybe has ceased trading and all scheduled flights have been cancelled.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account Flybe said: “We are sad to announce that Flybe has been placed into administration.

“David Pike and Mike Pink of Interpath have been appointed administrators.

“Regretfully, Flybe has now ceased trading.

“All Flybe flights from and to the UK are cancelled and will not be rescheduled.”

The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s consumer director Paul Smith said: “It is always sad to see an airline enter administration and we know that Flybe’s decision to stop trading will be distressing for all of its employees and customers.

“We urge passengers planning to fly with this airline not to go to the airport as all Flybe flights are cancelled. For the latest advice, Flybe customers should visit the Civil Aviation Authority’s website or our Twitter feed for more information.”

It comes after Flybe returned to the skies in April following an earlier collapse.

It operated up to 530 flights per week across 23 routes, serving airports such as Belfast City, Birmingham, East Midlands, Glasgow, Heathrow and Leeds Bradford.

Flybe was pushed into administration in March 2020 with the loss of 2,400 jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic destroyed large parts of the travel market.

Before it went bust it flew the most UK domestic routes between airports outside London.

Its business and assets were purchased in April 2021 by Thyme Opco, which is linked to US hedge fund Cyrus Capital.

Thyme Opco was renamed Flybe Limited.

It had been based at Birmingham Airport.

Pound rebounds in early Asia trading, following Liz Truss U-turn and Jeremy Hunt appointment | Business News

The pound has edged a little higher against the dollar in early Asia trading, following PM Liz Truss’s partial reversal of her initial economic plan.

It had fallen to a record low against the dollar at the end of September, after the short-lived then chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled the biggest programme of tax cuts for 50 years.

Mr Kwarteng, who was sacked on Friday after just 38 days in the job, paid the price for a mini-budget that called into question the government’s economic credibility more widely as the cost of borrowing surged, leading to an unprecedented intervention by the Bank of England (BoE).

However, following the prime minister’s announcement on Friday that corporation tax would rise to 25% from April next year instead of keeping it at 19% as part of the initial mini-budget, sterling gained 0.6% to $1.1245 on Monday in trade in Asia.

Kwasi Kwarteng leaves Downing Street
Out the door went Kwasi Kwarteng

Mr Kwarteng’s replacement, former foreign and health secretary Jeremy Hunt, has promised to win back the confidence of the financial markets by fully accounting for the government’s tax and spending plans.

New Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt leaves 10 Downing Street
In came the new Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt

All eyes are now on how the UK government bond market will trade, after the BoE on Friday concluded its emergency gilt market support.

“If we do see a surge in gilt yields, then that would show that markets remain very sceptical about the debt sustainability
in the UK,” said Carol Kong, a currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

“I think sterling is likely to remain very volatile this week,” she added.

Read more:
Pound sinks to record low against the dollar – as PM and chancellor defend mini-budget
Bank of England ‘will not hesitate to change interest rates as necessary’ after pound’s fall

Can Truss remain PM?

The Conservative Party is now on its fifth chancellor in the past three years – Mr Hunt, Mr Kwarteng, Nadhim Zahawi, Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid.

Mr Hunt is the seventh Tory chancellor in 12 years.

There is now a renewed focus on whether Ms Truss can remain in the job.

A Tory MP told Sky News: “The idea that the prime minister can just scapegoat her chancellor and move on is deluded.

“This is her vision. She signed off on every detail and she defended it.”