TPP members complete text, seek to sign by March

By BLOOMBERG

TOKYO • The 11 remaining members of a Pacific trade pact abandoned by US President Donald Trump have agreed on a revised agreement, with the nations to work toward signing the deal by early March, according to Singapore’s government.

Senior officials resolved outstanding issues, finalised the list of suspended provisions and completed the legal verification of the agreement, concluding negotiations on what has been renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Singapore’s Trade Ministry said on Tuesday in a statement.

The deal was reached after two days of talks in Tokyo, and came just hours after Trump imposed tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines — his first major move to level what he said is a global playing field tilted against American companies.

The whole agreement looked like it might collapse after contentious negotiations in November, when Canada’s participation was thrown into doubt.

Japan’s Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Canada has agreed to work toward approving the deal, and he believed they would follow through on that.

The original Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would have covered 40% of the global economy, was seen as a guarantee of US involvement in Asia — an idea thrown into disarray when Trump withdrew in one of his first acts as president.

Japan has led a scramble to keep the deal alive, with the hope of enticing the US to return at a later date.

“The CPTPP will enhance trade among countries in the Asia Pacific, resulting in more seamless flows of goods, services and investment regionally,” Singaporean Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang (picture) was quoted as saying.

Of the four remaining issues left after the talks in Vietnam in November, the sections of the deal Brunei and Malaysia had a problem with will be frozen, Motegi said.

Matters involving Vietnam’s labour rights and Canada’s cultural goods will be dealt with in side letters, which each country agreed to sign separately to the CPTPP deal, he said.

The following countries make up the agreement: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.