UK's Kemi Badenoch to visit Mexico to negotiate new trade deal

Joining Pacific partnership could give UK businesses tariff-free access on 99 per cent of goods and about 500 million customers, say ministers

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch. PA
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Amid hopes of making progress on “post-Brexit wins”, the new Business and Trade Secretary is heading to Mexico to push for new trading arrangements for the UK.

Kemi Badenoch will make a two-day visit to Mexico City to hold talks with Trade Ministers on the UK joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Since Brexit, Britain can now sign its own trade deals.

One of the major post-Brexit deals on which ministers have pinned their hopes is joining the 11-country bloc 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 Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s carving up of Whitehall departments, said the UK was “nearing the final stages” of talks to join the £9 trillion ($10.9tn) GDP trading bloc that stretches across the Indo-Pacific.

Ministers say joining the partnership could give UK businesses tariff-free access on more than 99 per cent of goods that enter a market of about 500 million customers.

Ms Badenoch, the former international trade secretary who was handed extra responsibilities as part of Mr Sunak's shake-up, will also try to renegotiate Britain’s free trade agreement with Mexico.

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It was first agreed on 20 years ago, with the Cabinet minister now pledging to bring it into the digital age in areas such as services and technology.

Officials said a “Mexico 2.0” deal could transform the UK’s relationship with the world’s 16th biggest 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.

“Mexico is a top-20 global economy, and a core member of the exciting trans-Pacific trade bloc," Ms Badenoch said.

“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 per cent 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, Ms Badenoch will meet Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Raquel Buenrostro, and Finance Minister Rogelio Ramirez de la O.

She was set to fly to the Mexican capital from Rome, having been in Europe to sign a new trade partnership to promote investment and exports between the UK and Italy.

Her arrival in Mexico on Thursday will make her the first UK Cabinet trade minister to visit the country in almost six years, after 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.

Britain ships £144 million of whisky and other beverages to the Latin American country.

Updated: February 09, 2023, 12:17 AM