Brexit news: May’s plan ‘could dash hopes for free trade’ | Politics | News – UK

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Britain could seek to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for TransPacific Partnership (CPTPP) – dubbed the best quality and most comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) outside the EU’s single market.

Its 11 members include Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Singapore, with South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand among others expected to join.

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But writing for the centre-Right think-tank Policy Exchange, Geoff Raby, Australia’s former ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, said by aligning UK and EU policy on agriculture and manufactured goods, the White Paper would “constrain” British opportunities to pursue an independent trade policy.

He added: “Without being able to participate fully in the agricultural and manufactured goods dimension, it is most unlikely the UK would able to join, but if it did, it would not be able to get the full benefits of the CPTPP”.

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Policy Exchange chairman Alexander Downer said the UK would be a “welcome addition” to the CPTPP.

But he added: “Having fought battles to secure the comprehensive nature of CPTPP, it is unlikely that the UK will be accepted without meeting the same obligations.”

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