EU hammer blow as trade expert brands bloc’s accession to CPTPP ‘impossible’

Liz Truss submits UK's application to join the CPTPP

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The CPTPP is a high-quality free trade agreement which binds together Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, Malaysia, Peru, Chile and Brunei. It covers nearly 14 percent of the global economy. The earlier incarnation of the partnership, the TPP, was originally conceived as an economic pillar supporting former US President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia”.

However, US participation was scrapped by former President Donald Trump on his third day in office.

With Democrat Joe Biden in the White House, many are hoping things could change.

In an exclusive interview with, though, Australian Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz invited a surprising group of countries to join: the EU.

He said: “All members would be in favour of it, I think.

“On the face of it, I can’t see a problem with it if it is a mutual benefit for everybody.

“In the EU, they are all democratic nations without too many human rights issues.

“As a result, having a deal between us would only be a good thing.”

In a different interview, though, Alan Winters, director of the Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, claimed there is “absolutely no way” the two sides would reach an agreement.

He said: “Yeah… pigs might fly.

“The EU would join the CPTPP but only if the CPTPP signs to EU’s standards and regulations.

“So there is absolutely no way. No way at all. It’s impossible.

“Bringing CPTPP and EU together, it would be the most difficult things in the world of trade.”

On the other hand, Mr Winters argued it would be much easier if the US joined the partnership.

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He added: “Remember the CPTPP is the child of the TPP.

“And Biden was a great advocate at the time.

“He has not done it yet for very predictable reasons – mainly Biden is not particularly into trade deals.

“But he very well could.”

Government trade adviser Shanker Singham echoed Mr Winters’ claim and explained why it would be impossible for Brussels to join in the immediate future.

He said: “The game is in the Indo-Pacific, that’s for sure.

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“I think it would be fantastic to get the EU into the CPTTP, but they would not be able to join at the moment.

“With their approach on agriculture and standards, it is impossible for them to accede.

“This doesn’t mean they can’t change their approaches.”

He noted: “It would be good for the world if they did and I am hopeful that somebody in the EU trade department is trying to figure out what to change in order to become an accession country.”

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