17:20 GMT06 March 2021
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    Britain could potentially fail to set a comprehensive agenda for negotiating post-Brexit trade deals in the massive Asia-Pacific trade bloc, according to a Chinese academic. The news comes as London scrambles for fresh trade deals with global partners after it withdrew from the European Union (EU) in late December.

    The United Kingdom's bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) presented 'limited benefits', an analyst told China Daily on Monday.

    But Britain needed to prove it could negotiate trade deals after Brexit, adding the CPTPP constituted low-hanging fruit, He Yun, associate professor at the School of Public Administration at Hunan University, told China Daily.

    "The CPTPP's benefits for the UK economy will be limited. First, distance matters in trade. Air and sea freight carrying goods will be too expensive for the CPTPP to substantially lower the costs of the UK to trade with the rest of the bloc. Second, what the UK needs most is to expand the international markets for its services, which is suffering as a result of losing its passporting right to the EU market. But the CPTPP is thin on services," she said. 

    The UK could also fail to define its priorities and deploy trade envoys for talks, namely as it is currently negotiating deals and continuity agreements on over 60 nations, along with the recently-inked post-Brexit deal with the EU, she added.

    "Joining in the negotiation of CPTPP right now will further stretch its negotiating manpower and could potentially hurt its other negotiations," she concluded.

    According to the UK Department for International Trade (DfIT), talks between London and signatories of the trade bloc could start this year, the report read.

    The news comes after London formally applied to join the 11-member trade bloc on 1 February at a recent ministerial meeting. The CPTPP would cover 500m people and roughly 13.5 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

    The UK also introduced an amendment into Parliament last week, which could potentially block China from future trade deals, citing alleged human rights abuses in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

    A Chinese spokesperson said last week that Beijing will also study how it could enter the trade bloc, with such efforts following successes with two of the world's largest trade deals - the $26.2tn Regional Cooperative Economic Partnership (RCEP) and an 'in principle' EU-China trade agreement - cementing ties between Beijing and the global economic order.

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    Tags:
    free trade agreement, trade bloc, trade, United Kingdom, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), China
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