Officials from 11 of the countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership are meeting in Australia this week to discuss reviving the trade agreement between their countries. The original members to the TPP were Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam.
In addition to trade liberalization, the TPP included articles related to labor, the environment, transparency and anti-corruption, services, and intellectual property.
As one of his first acts in office, President Donald Trump formally withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Article 30 of the treaty required ratification by at least six original signatories whose gross domestic product was greater than 85 percent of the combined GDP of the whole group for the TPP to enter into force. This article essentially gave the United States and Japan the power to kill the entire treaty.
Without the United States, the remaining 11 countries are re-examining many aspects to the treaty. As Reuters reports, Vietnam, in particular, is eager to remove provisions from the agreement that would have required significant policy changes, such as relating to labor and intellectual property rights. The United States during the Obama administration was the leading force behind these protections.
“There’s not much sense to agree to provisions they don’t really want such as stronger monopolies on medicines if they are not going to get access to the U.S. market,” said Patricia Ranald, a research associate at the University of Sydney.
A hope among the officials meeting in Australia is that a future administration will reverse President Trump’s decision to remove the United States from the TPP. A concern among some is that too many changes to the TPP will hurt that effort.
“The more you change the agreement, it is going to be harder to get the U.S. to sign on when it is ready to,” said Shiro Armstrong, a research fellow at the Crawford School of Economics in Canberra.
In addition to multilateral meetings like the one occurring in Australia this week, many of the 11 countries are also engaged in bilateral trade discussions. Two nations that have one of the best chances to sign a free trade agreement in the near future are Peru and Australia.
Peru currently has 16 free trade agreements including with Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, and the United States. In May 2017, officials from Peru and Australia announced that their countries would begin negotiations of a free trade agreement.
Peru exported $259 million and imported $102 million in goods from Australia in 2016. Although trade with Australia remained a fraction of Peru’s more than $70 billion trade with the rest of the world in 2016, bilateral trade between the two Pacific nations has more than tripled in the last decade.
On Monday, the Deputy Commerce Minister of Peru, Edgar Vasquez, said he expects a “very ambitious” trade agreement with Australia could go into effect in 2018.
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