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Brexit leader Nigel Farage is wary of the UK joining the major pacific trading bloc CPTPP, warning the country could find itself being forced to accept “political harmonisation”, after having just left the European Union.

Earlier this week, International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said that the government was pushing ahead with plans to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and could do so in as little as 12 months.

The bloc is comprised of Pacific rim nations Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam and is the third-largest trading zone.

Speaking to Breitbart News Daily‘s Alex Marlow about the proposals on Wednesday, Nigel Farage expressed scepticism, saying: “There is a very, very big difference between a relative straightforward free trade deal, where you remove tariffs and barriers, and just allow people and companies to make choices — that’s fine — but I’m afraid, looking at this particular proposal, there’s too many demands, here, for actual political harmonisation.”

The UK had only just left one political bloc less than five months  ago.

Mr Farage continued: “I think it needs a few amendments. I understand that if you’re trading freely with each other to have fair competition, but if that leads to a form of political integration, we should be suspicious.

“So I’m a little sceptical, at this stage. I do think some more work needs to be done.”

CPTPP is the successor to the Barack Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Former President Donald J Trump withdrew the United States of America from TPP after his inauguration in January 2017 and said in April 2018 that he would only consider rejoining TPP if the deal were “substantially better” than that offered to Obama.

Reuters reported at the time that the remaining members of TPP rewrote the partnership agreement, and it became the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

CPTPP seeks to slash tariffs, but also has chapters on commitments related to environmental and labour standards, according to the BBC. It also contains the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism, which allows businesses to take legal action against national governments if they believe a change in the law has damaged their profits.

Other countries in the region could join the bloc, including China which may prove problematic for the UK. Tensions remain high between London and Beijing over issues such as democracy in Hong Kong, the Uighur genocide, and the UK pulling Huawei out of its 5G network.

President Xi Jinping said in November that he was considering joining CPTPP, a position that was reiterated by Premier Li Keqiang last month. However, that month China ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which the South China Morning Post described as the “Beijing-backed alternative to the CPTPP”.

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