Eustice shoots down key ‘concern’ over new trade deal thanks to Brexit

Kemi Badenoch says UK joining CPTPP is ‘very big deal’

George Eustice has shot down a key “concern” over the UK’s newly agreed trade deal as a result of new Brexit freedoms possessed by Britain. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership is a deal which spans 11 countries across the Indo-Pacific and was agreed with the UK last night. Mr Eustice said that there was potential for “concern” about the issue of palm oil – a product which is controversial as a result of its negative environmental impacts.

But he said the UK now has its own “domestic legislation on supply chains” which should serve as a “solution to problems with the sustainability of palm oil”.

The UK has more flexibility and control over its own domestic legislation and trade controls as a result of leaving the European Union.

Mr Eustice threw his weight behind the new deal saying it is an example of “what a trade agreement should be”.

He told the Daily Express: “Looking at the overall shape of the agreement, it looks like a fairly balanced and reciprocal exchange of opportunities.

“There are appropriate safeguards in place where we’ve got sensitive sectors.

“The bit I suppose where there may be a bit more concern is on palm oil, but we’ve got our own domestic legislation on supply chains and that should prove a solution to problems with the sustainability of palm oil over time.”

He added: “I’ve never been against doing trade agreements. My objection to the Australia one was that it was very one sided.

“On this one it is what a trade agreement should be, which is a more balanced exchange of opportunities but within certain parameters and with the right protections for sensitive sectors. On the face of it it seems to do most of that, from what I’ve seen so far. “

Mr Eustice was previously been a vocal critic of the UK’s trade agreement with Australia – negotiated by Liz Truss – saying Britain gave “away far too much for too little in return”.

Announcing the CPTPP agreement last night, a spokesperson for the Department for Trade said the UK “would not have been able to join as a member of the EU, demonstrating how the UK is seizing the opportunities of our new post-Brexit trade freedoms to drive jobs and growth across the country.”

The bloc is home to more than 500 million people and will be worth 15 percent of global GDP once the UK joins, the spokesperson said.

The UK has been in talks with CPTPP countries for two years.

According to Government figures, joining the bloc will boost the UK economy by £1.8billion in the long run, with wages also forecast to rise by £800million compared to 2019 levels.

When asked how significant the deal is this morning, Ms Badenoch told Times Radio: “Very, very significant and I’m very excited about it. It may not sound like that because I’m talking after four hours of sleep but it is one of the biggest trade deals we’ve ever done.

“It’s certainly the biggest trade bloc we’ve entered since we joined the European Economic Community and what it’s going to do is open up our economy to where the new global growth is coming from.

“The CPTPP region countries’ total GDP is about £9trillion, about 500 million people.

“It’s where the new middle class will be coming from in the future. And now we’re going to have a closer trading relationship with them.”

She added: “This is not a deal about tomorrow. It’s a deal about the future.”

Speaking about the deal, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “We are at our heart an open and free-trading nation, and this deal demonstrates the real economic benefits of our post-Brexit freedoms.

“As part of CPTPP, the UK is now in a prime position in the global economy to seize opportunities for new jobs, growth and innovation.

“Joining the CPTPP trade bloc puts the UK at the centre of a dynamic and growing group of Pacific economies, as the first new nation and first European country to join.

“British businesses will now enjoy unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the south Pacific.”

But there has also been criticism of the deal, with Caroline Lucas – a member of the UK Trade and Business Commission – saying the deal makes a “mockery of our climate commitments”.

The MP said: “When it comes to trade, distance matters. Not only will joining this bloc fail to replace trade we have lost with our closest neighbours, stretching supply chains makes a mockery of our climate commitments and will undercut environmental and food standards in the UK.”

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