Trade Ministers Report Progress on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

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By Edward Barbour-Lacey

Trade Ministers and Heads of Delegation for the nations involved in the negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have reported significant progress in the talks over market access and trade and investment rules. The recent talks took place in Canberra, Australia on October 25-27.

After the close of the meeting, negotiators stated that “the shape of an ambitious, comprehensive, high standard and balanced deal is crystallizing,” and pledged that they “will continue to consult widely at home and work intensely with each other to resolve outstanding issues.”

The TPP has brought together the countries of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Upon completion, the TPP trade area would comprise a region with US$28 trillion in economic output, making up around 39 percent of the world’s total output.  If the TPP is successfully implemented, tariffs will be removed on almost US$2 trillion in goods and services exchanged between the signatory countries. Thus, developing countries, like Vietnam, have much to gain from the implementation of the trade agreement, including drastically reduced tariffs in some of the world’s largest markets.

RELATED: Vietnam-U.S. Relationship Shows Continued Signs of Improvement, TPP Progressing

However, there are still roadblocks for the negotiators to overcome.  Chief among these is the disagreement between the US and Japan over the agriculture and automobile sectors. Specifically, Japan wishes to keep large import duties on “ultra-sensitive” agricultural products, such as rice, wheat, beef, pork, dairy products, sugar, and starch.  Additionally, Vietnam has expressed the desire to be exempted from some of the trade conditions, due to the fact that the country is not as well developed as others in the region.

The next official negotiation on the TPP is expected to be held during the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, which will be held next month in Beijing. The TPP is but one of many major trade deals under negotiation in the Asia region, other key deals include the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the EU-Vietnam FTA.

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