TPP brings 500m people into Pacific trade deal
Despite US withdrawal, Pacific rim countries forged ahead with trade agreement
The 11 remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will sign a new pact later today in Chile’s capital, Santiago.
The TPP had seemed dead in the water after Donald Trump took the US out of the deal early last year. But after overcoming differences, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and New Zealand finalised the details of the agreement in Tokyo on Tuesday, paving the way for the official signing today.
Japan’s TPP minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, described the deal as “a landmark for the future of our country and the Asia-Pacific region”, the Japan Times reports.
The original TPP would have represented roughly 40% of the world’s economic output. Without the US, the new pact, renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), will cover just 13% of global GDP, but still include around 500 million people.
It could be good news for the UK: earlier this year, says The Guardian, Britain floated membership of the TPP as a way to boost post-Brexit trade.
The deal has proved hugely controversial over the course of its long gestation period. The original pact aimed to deepen economic ties between Pacific rim nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth, and forging a closer relationship on economic policies and regulation.
But, for its US critics, the TPP was “a secretive deal that favoured big business and other countries at the expense of American jobs and national sovereignty”, says the BBC. Those on the left claimed it would cost US jobs and “pave the way for companies to sue governments that change policy on, say, health and education to favour state-provided services”, says the broadcaster.
Despite these reservations, former US president Barack Obama made the deal a priority of his second term, in part to boost US economic growth, but also to serve as a counterweight to China’s growing influence in the Pacific.