Liz Truss has claimed credit for Britain joining a major Indo-Pacific trade bloc. The former prime minister highlighted how she was international trade secretary when the UK applied for membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in 2021.
Her statement comes as Britain is set to become the 12th member of the CPTPP, the fastest-growing trade bloc in the world.
While current Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch made the formal announcement, Ms Truss has been quick to point out that the talks started during her time as International Trade Secretary.
It has become the latest needle between Ms Truss and her successor as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who replaced her after 49 days in what many believe was a coup.
In a statement, Ms Truss said: “As trade secretary, I made our application to join CPTPP two years ago.
“I’m delighted negotiations are complete, deepening UK access to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
“Global Britain in action and an important counterweight to those who seek to undermine our values.
“I’d like to pay tribute to all those at the Department for International Trade who put in the hard yards to make this happen.
“This is a vital development as we seek to boost UK exports to new markets and deliver additional economic growth.”
When Ms Truss – who struck dozens of post-Brexit free trade agreements during her time as international trade secretary – applied for CPTPP membership she said it was “about is fulfilling the promise of Brexit“.
She became known as “Brexit superwoman” at the time.
She said in January 2021: “It’s opening up Britian to more opportunities in fast-growing parts of the world.
“And by opening up those markets we’re giving more opportunities to British businesses.”
Ms Truss has already been very critical of Mr Sunak’s economic policy and tax rises which she has branded “anti-growth” including a massive hike of Corporation Tax by 6p in the pound to 25p.
The UK accession to the CPTPP was formally confirmed in a telephone call between Ms Badenoch and counterparts from the group.
It represents Britain’s biggest trade deal since leaving the EU, cutting tariffs for UK exporters to a group of nations which – with the addition of Britain – will have a total gross domestic product (GDP) of £11 trillion, accounting for 15 percent of global GDP, according to UK officials.
Britain is the first new member, and first European nation, to join the bloc – comprising Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – since its formation in 2018.
It follows nearly two years of negotiations, culminating in intensive talks in Vietnam earlier this month, when representatives of all 11 existing members agreed to the UK joining.
It represents a continuation of the post-Brexit policy “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific region first initiated by Boris Johnson.
Joining is seen as a big win by proponents of the “Global Britain” vision espoused by Mr Johnson when he was PM.
Mr Sunak said it demonstrated how the UK is able to take advantage of its “post-Brexit freedoms” to strike agreements that were impossible when it was in the EU which will drive economic growth across the country.
The Prime Minister said it would put Britain at the centre of a “dynamic” group of Pacific economies, giving British businesses “unparalleled access to markets from Europe to the south Pacific”.
Mr 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.”
Ms Badenoch today said she was “unbelievably excited” by the UK accession to the CPTPP and the deal’s potential.
She told Times Radio: “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.”