The Business and Trade Secretary will head to Mexico hoping to make progress on “post-Brexit wins” by pushing for new trading arrangements for the UK.
On a two-day visit to Mexico City, Kemi Badenoch will hold talks with counterparts to discuss the UK’s accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
With Britain outside the European Union, it can sign its own trade deals.
One of the major post-Brexit deals ministers have pinned their hopes on is joining the 11-country bloc made up of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Ministers say joining CPTPP could give UK businesses tariff-free access on more than 99% of goods that enter a market of around 500 million customers.
Ms Badenoch, the former international trade secretary who was handed extra responsibilities as part of the Prime Minister’s shake-up, will also look to renegotiate Britain’s free trade agreement with Mexico.
It was first agreed 20 years ago, with the Cabinet minister pledging 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 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.
The Business and Trade Secretary said: “Mexico is a top-20 global economy, and a core member of the exciting trans-Pacific trade bloc.
“We will add £2 trillion to the bloc’s GDP when we join, taking it up to 15% 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.
The Secretary of State 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 minister responsible for trade to visit the country for 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, with Britain shipping £144 million of whisky and other consumable liquids to the Latin American country.