11 countries sign revamped TPP trade deal without US

  • Nation
  • Friday, 9 Mar 2018

Eleven nations signed a slimmed-down version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, moving to lower tariffs just as US President Donald Trump seeks to raise them after withdrawing from the deal.

The foreign ministers of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam officially created what is now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a market representing half a billion people and 13.5 percent of the global economy.

Malaysia was represented by International Trade and Industry Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri J.Jayasiri.

The CPTPP will reduce tariffs in countries that together amount to more than 13 percent of the global economy - a total of US$10 trillion.

With the United States, it would have represented 40 percent.

In a tweet after the signing, Jayasiri said that it is a great honour to be signing the CPTPP on behalf of Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

"This agreement will create business opportunities for Malaysian enterprises, big and small, and yet preserve the space to pursue our socio-economic goals," said Jayasiri.

Heraldo Munoz, Chile’s minister of foreign affairs, told a news conference 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. We will be giving a very powerful signal," he said after giving a joint statement with counterparts from Canada and New Zealand.

Even without the United States, the deal will span a market of nearly 500 million people, making it one of the globe’s three largest trade agreements, according to Chilean and Canadian trade statistics.

The original 12-member agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was thrown into limbo early last year when Trump withdrew from the deal just three days after his inauguration in a bid to protect U.S. jobs.

The 11 remaining nations, led by Japan and Canada, finalised a revised trade pact in January. It will enter force when at least six member nations have completed domestic procedures to ratify the agreement.

The final version of the agreement was released in New Zealand on Feb. 21.

“We´re proud to show the world that progressive trade is the way the forward, that fair, balanced, and principled trade is the way forward, and that putting citizens first is the way forward for the world when it comes to trade,” Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne said.

In January, Trump, who also has threatened to dump the North American Free Trade Agreement, told the World Economic Forum in Switzerland that it was possible Washington might return to the TPP pact if it gets a better deal.

However, New Zealand’s trade minister said that was unlikely in the near term, while Japan has said altering the agreement now would be very difficult.

Trump promised on Thursday to show flexibility and cooperation toward ”real friends” as he prepared to propose import tariffs on steel and aluminium.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier on Thursday he was confident his country’s close relationship with the United States will protect it from the  tariffs.- Agencies