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Trans-Pacific free trade pact set to enter into force on Dec. 30

A trans-Pacific free trade pact without the United States is set to enter into force on Dec. 30 as six nations, the required minimum, have now ratified the deal, New Zealand’s trade minister said Wednesday.

Australia notified New Zealand earlier in the day that it has completed its domestic process to ratify the tariff-lowering 11-member agreement, New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker said in a statement.

(Ministers of the 11 countries remaining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership pose before a signing ceremony of the revised free trade pact in Santiago, Chile, on March 8, 2018.)

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, as the pact is officially known, stipulates that it will enter into force 60 days after at least six signatories complete necessary domestic procedures.

Following an abrupt U.S. pullout from the original 12-member framework under President Donald Trump in January 2017, the remaining countries, accounting for about 13 percent of the world’s economy, signed the current revised pact in March this year.

Mexico, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and Canada are the other five countries to have already completed their domestic ratification procedures.

The implementation this year of the CPTPP demonstrates the six countries’ resolve to promote free trade even as the world grapples with an escalating trade war between the United States and China as the two largest economies engage in tit-for-tat exchanges of higher tariffs.

The completion of domestic steps in the six countries comes days ahead of the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 6 when Trump hopes to garner voter support for his «America First» agenda.

Japanese government officials hope that the CPTPP will help inject momentum into Tokyo’s push for multilateral free trade ahead of the expected start of bilateral negotiations for a Japan-U.S. trade agreement in January.

When the CPTPP takes effect, Japan’s economy is projected to get an 8 trillion yen ($ 71 billion) boost although agricultural and sea produce trade may see a negative impact of up to 150 billion yen, according to the government.

The other members yet to finish their domestic procedures are Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam. Britain, Colombia, Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand are among countries having shown interest in joining the pact.

All — Kyodo News+

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