Saturday, 23 June, 2018

US Allies Sign Sweeping Trade Deal in Challenge to Trump

'There's a need for some revision' - plenty of work required before new TPP comes into force, PM says CPTPP: 11 countries sign Pacific Trade Deal in Chile
Glenn Montgomery | 10 March, 2018, 01:54

On Thursday, the 11 remaining TPP nations gathered in Santiago, Chile to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in a move many say puts Asia at the lead in free trade while the USA appears headed in the opposite direction.

Pacific nations will be "drinking more Australian wine, eating more Australian beef and using more Australian services" thanks to a new trade agreement with 10 other countries in the region, according to the trade minister Steve Ciobo.

"The CPTPP will establish a new standard for other regional economic integration agreements, and even for future negotiations in the WTO (World Trade Organization) and in APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation)", said Chile's foreign ministry.

The "CPTPP has become more important because of the growing threats to the effective operation of the World Trade Organization rules", New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker said ahead of the signing.

In the earlier version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the USA sought to enlist the strong trade markets of Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.

"It's hard to ignore rules that everyone else is agreeing to, and they will probably look carefully at these rules", said Wendy Cutler, a former United States trade negotiator who worked on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and is now managing director of the Washington office of the Asia Society Policy Institute.

Trump said the tariffs would take effect in 15 days.

Yet the remaining members pushed forward. Their wines are regularly voted among the best in Chile.

The United States under Donald Trump may not be a huge fan of free trade across borders, but that's not stopping other countries from embracing it.

Yet with a relatively small population, winery officials said Chile needs to look beyond its borders.

"It gives our exporters new opportunities in key markets like Japan, it preserves the unique status of the Treaty of Waitangi, and it protects the Government's right to regulate in the public interest".

Taiwan will continue to adjust its laws and regulations, assess the impact of CPTPP on the domestic economy, step up its lobbying efforts overseas and communication at home in an effort to push for its early entry into the deal, the bureau said.

Some analysts said this agreement, beyond just the economy, must be viewed in its geopolitcal context.

Touted as a "21st century" free trade initiative, the CPTPP not only removes tariffs and barriers to trade but also covers environmental protection and labor rights. In its original form it attracted criticism from the left for ceding too much power to corporations and from the right for costing jobs. In an interview at the World Economic Forum earlier this year, Mr. Trump said, "If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP".

The 11 remaining countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have signed a revised version of the multilateral trade pact without the United States, reviving a deal that will slash tariffs and foster trade in a marketplace worth close to around US$13.5trn.

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