Singapore

11 countries including Singapore agree to new TPP deal

TPP-11 goes ahead without US involvement, still gives companies here access to market of 500 million people

Exactly one year to the day US president Donald Trump withdrew his country from an ambitious Pacific Rim trade deal, the remaining 11 countries - including Singapore - agreed to move ahead on a revised version of the pact.

They settled their remaining differences over the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), dubbed TPP-11, after two days of talks in Tokyo that ended yesterday.

The nations had reached a broad agreement in November, save for four unresolved issues. But these have been ironed out, paving the way for the deal to be inked by early March.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported March 8 as the date being mooted for the signing ceremony, to be held in Chile.

Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang said yesterday: "Singapore is pleased by the good outcome on the CPTPP.

"We have made significant efforts to uphold the spirit and substance of the original agreement, while maintaining its high ambition and overall balance."

Singapore companies will stand to gain, he said, from a substantial elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers for goods, improved access for service suppliers, greater facilitation of investments, and improved access to government procurement contracts.

The TPP-11, even without the US, will give Singapore companies access to a market of 500 million people with a combined output of US$10 trillion (S$13.2 trillion).

Japan and Singapore are joined by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam as parties to the deal.

COLLECTIVE COMMITMENT

The treaty will take effect once it is ratified by at least six countries.

The outcome, said Singapore's trade ministry, "reaffirms the CPTPP countries' collective commitment towards greater trade liberalisation and regional integration".

Under the CPTPP, 22 provisions in the original TPP will be frozen - up from 20 as agreed by negotiators last November.

Most are on intellectual property, with new clauses to do with the liberalisation of Malaysia's state-owned enterprises and Brunei's coal industry.

The provision on state-owned enterprises is to ensure businesses, regardless of ownership, can compete fairly with foreign government-owned entities on quality and price and not on discriminatory regulation, subsidies or favouritism.

The other two concerns - the protection of cultural industries in Canada and a grace period for labour rights legislation in Vietnam - will be spelt out in separate letters that will not be in the final CPTPP document.

BUSINESS & FINANCE