United Kingdom reaches deal to join CPTPP

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

The United Kingdom has reached an agreement to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, better known as the CPTPP.

It’s the first time a new member has joined the CPTPP since the original 11 Pacific Rim countries, including Canada, reached the deal in 2018.

From an agricultural perspective, the Canadian Cattle Association (CCA) says it’s disappointed with the arrangement, and that it will oppose any related legislation in Parliament.

“Yesterday’s announcement of the UK’s accession to the CPTPP further disadvantages Canadian beef producers and is fundamentally unjust,” says Nathan Phinney, CCA president, in a statement. “If the Government of Canada brings a ratification bill to Parliament without addressing the UK barriers to Canadian beef, CCA will approach all Parliamentarians to defeat that bill.”

The CCA says it’s been told other countries in the CPTPP have achieved unlimited beef access in their bilateral agreements with the UK, but that similar access was “off the table” for Canada.

It also says there’s been no progress on the UK changing its stance on carcass washes. The meat hygiene system used in Canada is widely recognized by other countries, but remains the UK’s main non-tariff barrier to Canadian beef.

When the UK left the European Union in 2020, a temporary agreement was struck to extend the terms of the Canada-EU trade deal with the UK until a permanent agreement could be reached. That deal remains in effect even if the UK joins the CPTPP, and means British beef currently has tariff-free access to the Canadian market in unlimited quantities, while Canadian beef has tariff-free access up to a tariff rate quota of 2,708 tonnes of fresh beef and 1,161 tonnes of frozen beef annually.

In 2022, the UK exported 4,414 tonnes of beef to Canada worth C$33.2 million, while Canada did not export any beef to the UK.

“The agreement protects the UK’s vital industries and entities, including agriculture…and upholds our high animal welfare and food safety standards. Dairy farmers will benefit from lower tariffs on exports of products like cheese and butter to Canada, Chile, Japan and Mexico…,” notes the press release from UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Hear RealAg Shaun Haney talk to CCA president Nathan Phinney about CCA’s concerns over the deal (story continues below):

Accession to the CPTPP would give the UK access to the Canadian dairy market under the terms of the CPTPP.

“We expect the Canadian government will be vigilant to ensure that the dairy products coming into Canada adhere to our domestic standards for food safety and production, and that any volumes allowed into Canada are enforced according to the terms of the agreement,” says Dairy Farmers of Canada, in a statement.

British cheese and dairy products would potentially have to compete for market access against dairy products from other CPTPP countries; however, New Zealand has accused Canada of not living up to its market access concessions on dairy under the deal. The first dispute resolution panel under the CPTPP was formed earlier this month to resolve New Zealand’s complaint about Canada’s administration of its CPTPP dairy tariff rate quotas.

Canada’s trade minister, Mary Ng, is welcoming the agreement to have the UK join the trade deal.

“As the first country to show support for the UK’s accession to CPTPP, we are pleased to see a longstanding friend and ally join one of the worlds most progressive trade agreements,” says Ng.

According to a joint statement from the CPTPP member countries, a working group is still finalizing the details and timeline on the process, including the steps required domestically in each member country, before the UK can formally join the deal. It would require ratification by Canadian Parliament.

Related:

Ag Policy Connection Ep. 2 — The Canada-EU trade deal, six years later

UK officially begins talks to join CPTPP trade deal

UK transitional trade deal a “stop gap,” but not enough, say agriculture groups

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