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Source: New Zealand Government

Trade and Export Growth Minister, Damien O’Connor, today welcomed the United Kingdom’s intention to submit a formal request to accede to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“The challenges facing the global trade and economic environment have been compounded by COVID-19.  In this context, New Zealand sees the CPTPP objective of maintaining and growing open, rules-based trade, as more important than ever.  We believe the CPTPP can provide leadership in our region and beyond to drive post-COVID economic and trade recovery.  The UK’s move to join the CPTPP underlines the Agreement’s importance in this regard,” Damien O’Connor said.

“To start this process, the United Kingdom needs to present a letter to New Zealand, as Depositary for the CPTPP, formally expressing its interest in joining the 11 member trade agreement.”  

Under CPTPP guidelines, the next step will be for all CPTPP members to discuss the United Kingdom’s request, and establish a working group to negotiate UK accession to the Agreement.

“New Zealand has always supported the expansion of the CPTPP by those willing to meet the Agreement’s high quality, so we warmly welcome the news that the UK intends to take the formal step shortly to start this process.”

“With the UK set to be the first to make such a formal request following the entry into force of the CPTPP, it will be important to set a strong precedent which reinforces the commitment of new members to fully deliver the high standards, including on market access, that are a hallmark of the CPTPP.  We look forward to discussions with the UK to achieve this outcome.”

New Zealand launched trade negotiations with the United Kingdom in June 2020 and is working to achieve an ambitious, comprehensive and inclusive bilateral Free Trade Agreement.   Both sides see conclusion of a high quality, comprehensive and future-focussed FTA as a valuable stepping stone towards the UK joining the CPTPP.

The United Kingdom is New Zealand’s sixth largest trading partner, with two way trade of almost NZ$6 billion in 2019.  With the UK’s departure from the European Union, the UK has moved to launch a range of new trade negotiations, including separately with the US, Australia and New Zealand; and now the CPTPP as a group.


  • The CPTPP is an 11-member trade agreement involving New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Viet Nam.  It entered into force on 30 December 2018.
  • New Zealand performs the legal ‘Depositary’ functions for the CPTPP.  This entails maintaining the legal copies of the Agreement and any amendments, as well as receiving and circulating certain official correspondence concerning the Agreement.

What happens next?

  • CPTPP Ministers agreed on accession procedures at the first meeting of the CPTPP Commission held in Tokyo in January 2019.
  • Under these procedures, CPTPP members will now discuss the United Kingdom’s request and consider establishing a working group to negotiate the UK’s accession.
  • A key part of these discussions will be to understand the UK’s situation and to identify how it will meet the standards required under the CPTPP – both its rules and in respect of market access commitments.

When will accession negotiations start?

  • The accession procedures do not specify a timeframe.  They indicate, however, that the CPTPP members need to make a decision on whether or not to establish a working group ‘within a reasonable period of time’.
  • Those seeking to accede are encouraged to consult with each of the CPTPP members individually to answer any questions or concerns they may have, which may take some time.

How does the UK’s application to join the CPTPP affect the New Zealand-UK FTA negotiations?

  • Both sides are committed to working actively to conclude a high quality, comprehensive and inclusive bilateral FTA.
  • Negotiations were launched in June last year and we have had two rounds so far, with a third round currently under way.
  • We both see early conclusion of a high quality bilateral FTA as a valuable stepping-stone towards UK accession to the CPTPP.