CPTPP trade pact enters into force with steep tariff cuts, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

CPTPP trade pact enters into force with steep tariff cuts

This article is more than 12 months old

Free trade deal kicked off yesterday without US, which pulled out in 2017

A landmark 11-nation Pacific Rim trade deal came into force yesterday after years of bumpy talks, bringing steep tariff cuts to the first six countries that ratified the pact, including 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 on Facebook that the Republic's businesses can enjoy greater access to regional markets: "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.

"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," he said.

The trade deal, which was led by Japan, retains all but 22 of the more than 1,000 provisions in the original TPP that had to be renegotiated after the US pulled out in January last year.

The US Wheat Associates has expressed concern of an "imminent collapse" in the lucrative Japan market, with American exporters losing out to Australian competitors.

The 583-page trade document, covering areas such as market access for goods and services and e-commerce, kicked in yesterday 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 called 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.

Japanese Economic Revitalisation Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told the Nikkei: "Japan's role in the global free trade system has changed from that of a participant to a leader in building 21st century common trade rules, as well as acoordinator and standard flag-bearer of the entire system."

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