P&R wants to move ahead with links to UK’s free trade deals

GUERNSEY is poised to move a step closer to linking with the UK’s new suite of free trade agreements with other jurisdictions.

Hi An a city on Vietnam’s central coast. Vietnam is one of the signatories of the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Hi An a city on Vietnam’s central coast. Vietnam is one of the signatories of the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Having agreed the concept in principle last autumn, Policy & Resources is returning to the States with the next move in the process after what it described as ‘confidential, sensitive and complex’ negotiations on the island’s involvement with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The committee wants the island to seek participation in the full agreement, for goods and services, from the date of the UK’s accession to the partnership, which covers one of the world’s largest free trade areas by gross domestic product.

The UK is also working on a number of free trade agreements where Guernsey may get involved in the future. Guernsey’s interests have been put forward to the UK government, and the committee said they are understood and have been advanced.

It said a number of negotiations on behalf of the UK are ‘moving at pace’ and form a key part of the government’s trade policy. The goods market access for the Bailiwick has already been secured with the EU, EEA, EFTA, Japan, Australia and New Zealand

FTAs allow Bailiwick businesses to immediately benefit from the preferential tariffs and reduction in barriers when trading goods as well as providing the other benefits.

P&R is pushing to move forward now as the approval of the basic principles by the Bailiwick governments is required before the UK completes negotiations on the CPTPP. Sark and Alderney also need to agree.

‘It is important the committee can react swiftly and confidently to confirm Guernsey’s participation in the CPTPP at the appropriate juncture and having the relevant facts and text of the negotiated agreement at its disposal,’ it said.

The States is also working with industry representatives over trade agreements.

The Trade Policy Forum, a mix of States committees and industry, has supported progress so far, and has told the committee that ‘it is critical to ensure that the Bailiwick can participate in relevant and appropriate FTAs/trade arrangements for trade security, as well as market opportunity. This will provide stability and predictability in existing markets and give options for Bailiwick-based businesses to expand into future markets and, in the process, allow the islands’ business community to diversify’.

The committee believes that the island benefits from not only setting trade rules, but demonstrating that Guernsey is ‘part of the British family’ and is willing to collaborate and participate within internationally-recognised trade rules.

‘This is increasingly important at a time of international economic fragmentation and increased sensitivity and selectivity by countries as to which jurisdictions they choose as partners for comprehensive economic relations.’

The report will be debated by the States in the coming weeks.

What is the Comprehensive Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership?

It is a free trade agreement which encompasses various countries within the Pacific region.

Signatories include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The UK is seeking to accede to the CPTPP, alongside other nations including China, South Korea, Taiwan and Ecuador.

The combined economies of the CPTPP’s current members was worth an estimated £9 trillion in 2019.

The region is also growing in geopolitical importance, with the so-called ‘tilt to the Indo-Pacific’.

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