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Controversial Pacific trade pact revived


The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, which had been on life support since America’s withdrawal, has finally been resuscitated.

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The 11 remaining countries are expected to sign a tweaked agreement on March 8 in Chile, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo has confirmed.

Canada threw a spanner in the works at the APEC summit in Vietnam last year derailing efforts to finalise the deal.

Ottawa has since been coaxed back to the fold following lobbying efforts from Tokyo and Canberra.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland overnight, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the agreement the “right deal”.

Canada’s trade minister said in a statement it included an improved arrangement on autos with Japan and the suspension of intellectual property provisions that had been a concern.

Ciobo said the deal would eliminate 98 per cent of tariffs in a marketplace worth close to $14 trillion.

“It hasn’t been easy, but we’re finally at the finish line and Aussie businesses will be the big winners,” he said.

Under the deal, Australian exporters will benefit from new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

There’s also a better deal for Australian cheese and beef exports into Japan and new quotas for rice and wheat.

Australian sugar will also have better access to Japan, Canada and Mexico’s markets.

Ciobo, who is at the World Economic Forum in Davos, hailed the Turnbull government’s persistence.

“Labor and Bill Shorten declared this trade agreement dead and wanted to walk away,” he said.

“If it was up to them they would shut Australia out of this historic agreement and the big wins it delivers our farmers, manufacturers and services providers.”

He expects other countries may wish to join up once the agreement is in force.

There has been ongoing speculation Indonesia may be interested.

The agreement was finalised at a meeting of trade officials in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Key facts

THE TPP 11 is made up of: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

US President Donald Trump pulled America out of the deal a year ago after describing it as “a continuing rape of our country”.

IT WAS a key policy of the Obama administration’s so-called foreign policy pivot to Asia.

SOME opponents of the TPP fear it opens doors for companies to sue governments for changing policies if it harms their investments. The deal has a controversial investor state dispute settlement clause.

CHINA is not part of the TPP and is trying to get up a rival deal with seven TPP countries, including Australia, and eight others. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is much narrower and less ambitious.

– AAP with Reuters

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