Netizen 24 SGP: Leaders agree on revived, but watered-down TPP trade pact now renamed CPTPP

By On November 11, 2017

Leaders agree on revived, but watered-down TPP trade pact now renamed CPTPP

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Canada's Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne (right) attends the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summet in the central Vietnamese city of Danang on Nov 9, 2017.
PublishedNov 11, 2017, 3:13 am SGTUpdated43 min ago

DANANG, VIETNAM â€" The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact is alive and kicking, and it now boasts a new and much longer name too.

The landmark deal, involving Singapore and 10 other Pacific Rim nations, has been renamed as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific P artnership (CPTPP).

At a press conference on Saturday (Nov 11) in Danang, top officials from Japan and Vietnam said the 11 TPP members had finally agreed to push ahead without the United States, by suspending 20 provisions from the original deal.

Japan’s Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi announced that the CPTPP will go into force after six of the 11 nations ratify it.

The 11 are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

“We have overcome the hardest part,” said Vietnam’s Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh.

The breakthrough came after almost a week of intense talks between the trade ministers and chief negotiators as they tried to iron out their differences on various issues of the deal.

It is unlikely, however, that the restructured agreement will get an immediate formal endorsement by the leaders of all 11 countries, who are in Danang to attend the annual Asia-Pa cific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit.

The deal looked to have hit a major roadblock on Friday when a planned meeting of the TPP leaders was unexpectedly called off as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not turn up at the venue.

Francois-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s trade minister, later blamed Mr Trudeau’s absence on Friday to “a misunderstanding about the schedule”.

In a statement on Saturday, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) welcomed the decision to press on with the agreement.

“I congratulate the officials and trade negotiators for their determination to lock in this deal,” said SBF chief executive officer Ho Meng Kit.

“The business community deeply appreciates their tremendous effort. I look forward to the speedy conclusion and subsequent implementation of the restructured agreement,” he said.

He hoped that the US and other interested countrie s would join the trade pact in the future.

Mr Ho said the SBF would provide the necessary support to bring the CPTPP into fruition.

Japan has been particularly active in pushing for a consensus on a revised TPP, fearful a collapse of the pact would hand more regional influence to China, according to AFP. China, which is not a TPP member, backs another proposed free trade deal known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) among the 10 Asean countries as well as six partners â€" China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

But Canada, which has the second-biggest economy among the countries remaining in the TPP after Japan, had pushed back against a quick fix, digging in its heels over progressive clauses in the former agreement. It wants to maintain environmental and labour protections linked to freer markets in the previous deal, AFP reported.

With the withdrawal of the US, the pack is now much less attractive to countrie s such as Vietnam, Malaysia and Chile as the carrot of access to the huge US market has been blocked.

Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, told AFP that even without the US, TPP-11 is “the most important trade agreement signed in the last 20 years”.

“Companies had largely given up on the TPP after the withdrawal of the United States,” she said. “Now firms will need to scramble to figure out how the agreement matters to their business.”

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