11 nations move forward with TPP-like trade deal without US

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.

No longer up in the air, a new Trans-Pacific Partnership has been signed and the United States isn't included.

"Last year Australia exported around $12b worth of agricultural goods to the TPP-11 countries, so this is a real game changer with huge potential".

When it comes into force 60 days after being fully ratified by six of the 11 members, the pact will create the largest free-trade zone in the world, with a market encompassing almost 500 million people and representing about 13.5% of the global gross domestic product.

The CPTPP is, in effect, the original Trans-Pacific Partnership struck during the Barack Obama presidency minus the U.S. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump had promised to pull the U.S. out of the TPP, and went on to do precisely that within weeks of assuming office.

According to the bureau, the agreement will become effective in 60 days, as long as at least six member nations have ratified it.

"TPP-11 includes five of Australia's important grain exports markets in Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore, which account for 15-20 per cent of Australian grain trade", GrainGrowers trade and economics manager, Luke Mathews, said.

The pact includes 22 provisions that were excluded from the original deal, and that includes the membership of the USA and some of its demands, such as protection of pharmaceuticals.

Under the deal, service providers will be able to compete for some government contracts in other member states for the first time, including in Singapore.

"Being part of this trade agreement is essential if the new Government is to realise its aspirational goals for New Zealand".

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However, PIIE said that Malaysia will be the biggest victor from CPTPP, as the deal will provide export access into new markets including Canada, Peru and Mexico benefiting palm oil, rubber and electronics exporters.

"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.

Once implemented, the 11 countries hope to expand the framework to other countries, in particular the United States, whose return would mean the pact covers almost 40 percent of global economic output and add security significance to the deal to counter China's rising clout in the Asia-Pacific region.

Chile said membership of the new pact will improve access to markets now responsible for 17 percent of its total exports.

He said Malaysia, as one of the pioneer members who has successfully negotiated the agreement "on its terms", should not miss the opportunity to grab the benefits of the agreement and efforts to complete the ratification process should be intensified.

Now that the USA will officially add a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum, the country could end up in an even worse position on trade.

The UK is also understood to be exploring the possibility of joining a trans-Pacific trade bloc after it leaves the European Union, as part of plans to find alternative export markets.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, in Santiago for the CPTPP signing, told Reuters he would not allow the United States to use the tariffs to pressure it in the Nafta talks.

"I'm pleased we have been able to make so much progress in just a few months".


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