THE Scottish Government has said it has “serious concerns” after the UK’s Asia-Pacific trade deal was confirmed.

On Friday, UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch announced that the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) has been confirmed.

During a media round following the announcement, Badenoch was forced to go on the defensive after critics of the deal pointed out the Government’s own experts said it would only boost the economy by 0.08%.

The deal is the biggest the UK has signed since leaving the EU, but does not compensate for the estimated 4% drop in GDP Brexit caused.

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Commentators said the impact will be limited, with official estimates suggesting it will add just £1.8 billion a year to the economy after 10 years, representing less than 1% of UK GDP.

Badenoch told journalists to “not keep talking” about Brexit as she defended the deal.

And now, the Scottish Government has weighed in on the row and cited “significant concerns” over the agreement.

Newly appointed trade minister Richard Lochhead said: ““It is clear that this agreement will not make up for the damaging impact of the UK leaving the EU and forfeiting access to the European Single Market, which accounted for 43% of Scottish exports prior to Brexit.

“Membership of CPTPP will see some reduction in tariffs, which Scottish businesses will welcome.

The National: Badenoch was forced to defend the CPTPP trade deal during a media roundBadenoch was forced to defend the CPTPP trade deal during a media round (Image: free)

“However, the UK Government’s own modelling suggests that over time CPTPP membership will result in a mere 0.08% increase in UK GDP. In contrast the Office for Budgetary Responsibility forecasts that Brexit will reduce the UK’s potential growth by about 4%.”

Lochhead said the Scottish Government needs to examine what has been agreed so far and would expect the UK to involve ministers in “any remaining negotiation”.

“Significant concerns have already been raised with the UK Government that joining CPTPP would open the door to imports produced to lower safety, animal welfare, environmental or labour standards,” he added.

“The UK Government needs to undertake, as a matter of urgency, an impact assessment on the cumulative impact of the Free Trade Agreements they are currently negotiating.”

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The UK is the first new member, and first European nation, to join the bloc – comprising Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – since its formation in 2018.

It follows nearly two years of negotiations, culminating in intensive talks in Vietnam earlier this month, when representatives of the 11 existing members agreed to the UK joining.

While Britain already has trade agreements with the CPTPP members apart from Malaysia and Brunei, officials said it would deepen existing arrangements, with 99% of UK goods exported to the bloc now eligible for zero tariffs.

Ministers have faced questions as to how UK protections on food safety, animal welfare, the environment and data protection can be maintained under CPTPP rules.

There have also been concerns about intellectual property rights and the potential implications for the cost of drugs to the NHS while unions worry about workers’ rights.

Officials say they have ensured high food safety and animal welfare standards will remain in place while ministers made clear the NHS and the price it pays for drugs were “not for sale” in the negotiations.

They point to the UK’s success in fending off demands from Canada to admit hormone-treated beef.

Labour however warned that “the devil is in the detail”, saying the UK Government has struck a series of “desperately bad” trade deals since Brexit, including the agreement.