Controversial in some quarters and welcomed in others, the always attention-grabbing Trans Pacific Partnership deal was officially signed yesterday by the 12 member countries.
While the OECD’s tax transparency announcement grabbed many headlines overnight, there was another significant multilateral deal in the spotlight.
Covering 40% of the world’s economy, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has officially, finally been signed. Though yet to be ratified in the US Congress and by other TPP country lawmakers, the agreement from the trade ministers of the 12 countries involved is indeed a landmark moment. It will set the rules for the 21st century for trade.
It is the conclusion of five years of negotiations, and aims to create a unified economic bloc for companies and businesses to trade more easily. Signatories include the US, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada and Japan - though China is not a signatory, and the TPP is seen as a challenge to China’s growing dominance in the Pacific region.
In a statement, US President Barack Obama said of the deal: “This partnership levels the playing field for our farmers, ranchers and manufacturers by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on our products. It includes the strongest commitments on labour and the environment of any trade agreement in history, and those commitments are enforceable, unlike in past agreements.”
However, not everyone has welcomed the news. The deal has proved contentious across a number of industries, including in the agricultural sector. US milk farmers have protested the deal because it means milk can be imported to the US, increasing competition, while some campaigners have called it the “biggest global threat to the internet” because of wording regarding whistleblowing and because it may impose “some of the worst features of US copyright law” to Pacific Rim countries.
But what does it mean for business in the Asia Pacific region? For one, it means easier access to the lucrative North American markets.
Says TMF Group’s Head of APAC, Paolo Tavolato: "The TPP will open new opportunities for the many companies operating in the Asia Pacific region as their products and services will have easier access to large markets. It will also encourage more inbound foreign investments to those Asia Pacific countries involved the treaty."
We will continue to monitor the progress of the agreement, and look at some of the countries set to benefit most from the conditions inherent to the TPP.
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