Greg Lance – Watkins
UK ‘should join other world trade blocs’ say economists
Britain should show it is serious about leading the world in free trade by pushing to join existing regional trade blocs and ongoing negotiations, economists and analysts have urged.
The UK cannot formally negotiate trade treaties until the country has left the EU, but one potential way to speed up the process is to deal with groups of countries that already have regional trade deals linking their economies.
One such deal is the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) of Asia-Pacific nations, the negotiation of which has been given new impetus by Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the rival Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The 16-nation RCEP includes China, India, Australia and New Zealand, which want to trade more with Britain.
Geoffrey Yu, head of UBS Wealth Management’s UK investment office, said: “The UK doesn’t have a Pacific border, but why not try to discuss joining the RCEP as well, and bring the UK’s expertise in trade to the table, in the same way that the UK is an anchoring nation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for example.
Trade economist Douglas Lippoldt at HSBC said: “In principle, UK accession to an alternative regional trade agreement could be beneficial if it were to provide liberal access to multiple trade partners all in one go.”
RCEP’s founding principles indicate new members will be allowed to join, though the deal is not yet finalised.
Miranda Carr at Haitong Research, said: “The UK has close ties with India, New Zealand and Australia, [which] may welcome a UK inclusion, [to] have another large economy in the group.”
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