Shifting Asian trade alliances in a post-pandemic world

(Jul 2020) In this piece, Peter Sandham considers the reasons for the UK seeking membership of the CPTPP and what the future holds for this expanding trade alliance.


  • The UK has announced it will seek membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP”), an Asia-Pacific trade agreement set up in December 2018 that already includes Japan, Australia, Canada and several Association of Southeast Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) countries.
  • In its earlier incarnation as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the bloc was seen by Obama as a means to contain China but US participation was scrapped by Trump. Might UK interest be a stalking horse for the USA’s return?
  • Beijing has also made noises about joining but continued exclusion of China from the CPTPP may allow its ASEAN members, particularly Vietnam, to take advantage of multinationals shifting production away from China.

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