|British Ambassador to Việt Nam Iain Frew. VNS Photo Lê Việt Dũng|
After an intense round of talks in Việt Nam, UK's negotiations with CPTPP members have come to an agreement that the UK has reached the conclusion of its accession process to join the trade bloc.
British Ambassador to Việt Nam Iain Frew spoke to Việt Nam News about the trade opening.
What is the current status of the UK's trade negotiations with CPTPP countries?
I am delighted that the UK and CPTPP partners have concluded these negotiations, and that the UK is now set to be the newest CPTPP member and the first in Europe to join the agreement.
This is the conclusion of negotiations which have lasted over two years with five negotiating rounds. And we now have an agreement in place that will set the grounds for future trade relationships, growth, and investment between the UK and CPTPP members, including Việt Nam.
My expectation is that we will see ministers sign this agreement later this year. And from there, every country will ratify and implement the deal in accordance with its own procedures and parliamentary ratification.
What are the key factors that motivated the UK to join the CPTPP?
The UK is delighted to be joining a group with 11 important economies and member countries of the CPTPP and increasing the size of this important trade bloc from about US$9 trillion to $11 trillion.
CPTPP is a very significant international trade bloc that is setting the future standards and rules for international trade and really growing in importance.
This doesn't only shows the UK's commitment to trade and to building its trade and investment relationships but also its wider strategic commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and to building relationships with the countries of this region including CPTPP members.
What’s the role of Việt Nam in the UK's accession to the trade bloc?
The UK put its application in to join CPTPP two years ago, and we have had two years of intensive negotiations. I would say Việt Nam has been a consistent and constant champion for the UK membership. And we have been really grateful and appreciative for that support. I think it represents how our relationship has developed bilaterally. We have the UK-Vietnam free trade agreements already, and we are increasingly working together at a strategic level on international and regional issues.
Việt Nam's consistent support throughout the five negotiating rounds led us to the final round last month. And I must congratulate the Vietnamese negotiators, as well as all other negotiators, for their excellent work to clear out almost all of the remaining issues. So it's an excellent outcome. I'm delighted and very proud of Việt Nam's role in working with the UK on that.
How would the UK's membership in the CPTPP impact UK-Việt Nam relations in terms of trade and investment?
We have already seen trade between the UK and Việt Nam increasing significantly. In recent years, bilateral trade has increased by 20 per cent, to a value of over 6.4 billion pounds. And that is built on the basis of UKVFTA.
This new CPTPP deal is going to unlock even more trade and investment between the two countries, as well as between the UK and other CPTPP members. In our estimation, we will see increased exports from the UK to the CPTPP members of over 1.7 billion pounds over the long term and a benefit to the UK economy as well.
But what does this mean for specific sectors? There are particular sectors in agriculture and seafood, where Việt Nam will be able to export more.
From the UK's perspective, we will also be able to export some more of our agricultural products, but increasingly, the complex goods and services that our economies are exchanging as we explore how we work together on some of the more innovative areas and emerging technologies.
One important aspect of the CPTPP agreement is the high standards it sets in e-commerce, digital trade, and the more progressive elements of modern trade agreements. Those high standards and innovations are going to underpin how we develop and build our trading future.
What are your recommendations for Việt Nam to fully leverage CPTPP?
I think there are a number of interesting questions around how CPTPP develops from here and how we make the most of this.
The first is how we make the most of the agreement itself, the areas which have been liberalised, and the commitments we have made. Both the UK and Việt Nam are going to work together with our companies to encourage them to understand better what those areas are, and how they can explore them.
We have a regular rhythm of trade missions between our countries of information and listening to what investors and companies are telling us about what reform is needed in sectors, and how they can make the most of the trade agreements that have already been reached.
This year, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, is an excellent opportunity. We will have a number of high-level visits, which will give us the opportunities to explain and exploit the agreement.
UKVFTA has given Vietnamese goods a tariff advantage when entering the UK markets. Do you think CPTPP would undermine the advantage?
I think we should look at CPTPP as an agreement that is benefiting all of the members. There are agreements between different countries around tariff rates, quotas, and preferences. But I think if we look at it in a broader sense, everyone is benefiting from this opening.
And the areas that you mentioned in terms of how the CPTPP opens further, I think we're going to see mutual benefit across the board on this. As the UK market is increasingly open, there will be benefits to Việt Nam as well as to other CPTPP members who are interested in exporting more to the UK market or attracting more investment from the UK. And I think that is true across sectors. —VNS