Kemi Badenoch today travels to Mexico in a bid to secure two “post-Brexit wins”. On a two-day visit to Mexico City, the Business and Trade Secretary will hold talks with counterparts to discuss the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Mrs Badenoch, a rising Tory star, will also look to renegotiate Britain’s free trade agreement with Mexico.
A major opportunity made possible by the UK’s departure from the EU is joining the 11-country CPTPP made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The Department for Business and Trade, which was created this week as part of Rishi Sunak’s Whitehall shake-up, said the UK was “nearing the final stages” of talks to join the £9 trillion gross domestic product (GDP) trading bloc which stretches across the Indo-Pacific.
Ministers say joining CPTPP could give UK businesses tariff-free access to more than 99 percent of goods that enter a market of around 500 million customers.
Mrs Badenoch will also work to renegotiate Britain’s trade deal with Mexico – first agreed 20 years ago – to bring it into the digital age in areas such as services and technology.
Officials said a so-called “Mexico 2.0” deal could transform the UK’s relationship with the world’s 16th largest economy and open up one of the world’s largest consumer markets, with the country’s population projected to reach nearly 150 million by 2035.
The Business and Trade Secretary said: “Mexico is a top-20 global economy, and a core member of the exciting trans-Pacific trade bloc.
“I’m here to push progress on two significant post-Brexit wins that will not only benefit British businesses, but also show what the UK has to offer CPTPP countries.
“We will add £2 trillion to the bloc’s GDP when we join, taking it up to 15 percent of the world’s GDP, and will add a strong voice promoting free trade and defending against protectionism on the global stage.”
During her trip, Mrs Badenoch will meet Mexico’s secretary of economy Raquel Buenrostro and finance minister Rogelio Ramirez de la O.
She is flying to the Mexican capital from Rome where she signed a new trade partnership to promote investment and exports between the UK and Italy.
The Business and Trade Secretary, widely seen as a possible Tory leader, is the first UK Cabinet minister to visit Mexico for almost six years since Liam Fox in 2017.
Britain’s top import from Mexico is cars and other vehicles, bringing in £172 million worth in the 12 months to November 2022, according to Office for National Statistics data.
The UK also imports £57 million of beverages, such as tequila and beer, with drinks also the biggest export, with Britain shipping £144 million of whiskey and other consumable liquids to the Latin American country.
Mrs Badenoch, the former international trade secretary, was handed extra responsibilities as part of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet reshuffle yesterday leading the new joint Department for Business and Trade.