Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Eleven Nations Set To Sign Pacific Trade Pact Without US

Eleven Nations Set To Sign Pacific Trade Pact Without US

"We have nine pages of new text wrapped around the old text, 22 items suspended - not removed. Ministers expressed their determination to complete their domestic processes to bring the Agreement into force expeditiously", said the ministers in a joint statement.

Countries will now have to ratify the agreement, a process which involves amending their laws. The renegotiated pact signed in Chile's capital was also renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.

The ministers dropped key provisions that the Americans had required on protection of intellectual property, among others.

Heraldo Munoz, Chile's minister of foreign affairs, said the agreement was a strong signal "against protectionist pressures, in favour of a world open to trade, without unilateral sanctions and without the threat of trade wars".

"It will be to the benefit of all the partners", Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said of the deal at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.

The formulation of the partnership, which is made up of countries that together comprise more than 13 percent of the global economy, was initially spearheaded by the a means to counter China's surging economic power.

The deal had been on life support after the United States' withdrawal but was resuscitated in January following lobbying from Japan and Australia.

A year after an abrupt USA withdrawal left a fledgling 12-nation Pacific trade pact for dead, the 11 remaining states will sign a re-vamped deal Thursday aimed at slashing tariffs.

"The CPTPP also contains ways to address complex non-tariff barriers, which are often costlier than tariffs and more hard to quantify".

CPTPP countries accounted for US$214 billion - a fifth - of Singapore's total goods trade past year.

Opponents disagree, arguing it is essentially the same deal the previous National government signed at SkyCity in Auckland in 2016. E-commerce rules can also ensure that data moves freely across borders.

Growers are rejoicing over the reduction of tariffs for kiwifruit exports to Japan following the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Singapore's hope is that the CPTPP and RCEP can be stepping stones to its "end-goal" of a wider free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, Mr Lim said last week.

Trump, who abandoned TPP because he felt his administration could negotiate better deals one on one, told CNBC earlier this year that he would be open to returning to the agreement if it were "substantially better".

The secrecy that shrouded the agreement during global talks also drew intense skepticism from both ends of the political spectrum, despite President Barack Obama's determined pitch for his signature trade initiative.

"Like it or not, the Trump ad-ministration and the U.S. could find itself increasingly isolated in the worldwide trade policy arena", he said.

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