A landmark 11-nation Pacific Rim trade deal entered into force on December 30th after years of bumpy talks, bringing steep tariff cuts to the first six countries that ratified the pact, including Canada, Japan and Singapore.

Consumers will also stand to gain from the deal known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Australia’s Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said: “The opportunities are vast, from more Victorian wine and cheese being enjoyed on the slopes of Whistler, Canada, to more New South Wales prime beef being served up in Japan’s world-class restaurants.”

Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing wrote in a Facebook post that the Republic’s businesses can enjoy greater access to regional markets with the CPTPP entering into force.

“Besides complementing our extensive network of free trade agreements, the CPTPP also deepens regional economic integration, providing greater trade and investment opportunities in the region for Singapore businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises,” he said.

“We look forward to the swift ratification of the CPTPP by the remaining parties so that the full potential of the agreement can be realised.”

The trade deal retains all but 22 of the more than 1,000 provisions in the original TPP that had to be renegotiated after the United States pulled out in January last year..

The 583-page trade deal document, covering areas such as market access for goods and services and e-commerce, kicked in on December 30th for the six first-movers, which also include Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand.

Vietnam will officially enter the pact on Jan 14, while Brunei, Chile, Malaysia and Peru will only come on board 60 days after they complete their ratification procedures.

With the CPTPP, tariffs were slashed to zero overnight for some products, while for others, they will be gradually reduced over a period of up to 20 years.

With tariff reduction commitments mostly tied to the calendar year, a second round of tariff cuts will kick in tomorrow for goods from all countries save for Japan, where they will take effect on April 1.

The trade deal, informally referred to as the TPP-11, covers 13.2 per cent of the global economy, 15 per cent of global trade and a market of 500 million people.

CPTPP ministers will meet in Tokyo on Jan 19 to discuss expanding its membership, with Colombia, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and the United Kingdom among the countries that are said to be keen on entering the deal.

Source: Straits Times

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