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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        28  June 2011

TPP trade pact moves forward

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The seventh round of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement has achieved important results and is expected to attain several goals in key areas by year-end, according to Vietnamese trade officials.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said at a press conference on Friday, June 24,that partner countries had made progress in negotiations in more than 20 fields covered by the TPP Agreement.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, also known as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement or TPP agreement, is a multilateral free trade agreement that aims to integrate the economies of the Asia-Pacific region.

At the TPP negotiations seventh round in HCM City last week with the participation of 500 delegates from nine countries, considerable progress were made in negotiations on opening the merchandise market, according to Khanh.

The aim is to build a high-quality free trade agreement, while bringing about actual trade opportunities for TPP members and further boosting economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region.

During negotiations, TPP-member countries, including Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, discussed trade and investment liberalisation as well as a draft to enhance competitive capacity, facilitate supply chains, create opportunities for small – and medium-sized enterprises, and assist development.

Vietnam as the host has made positive contributions to the negotiation process, but Khanh said joining such a comprehensive and complex agreement as TPP had posed significant challenges.

To enhance the capacity of developing countries, great importance had been attached to development factors during the negotiation process, which will help these countries act promptly on their commitments.

He said the biggest benefit the country targeted when joining the TPP was the possibility of increased exports as the Asia-Pacific market has more than 470 million people.

If Vietnam could liberalise economic relations with TPP-member countries, then the opportunity to boost exports would be huge, he added.

The original TPP agreement between the countries of Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore was signed on June 3, 2005, becoming effective on May 28, 2006.

The objective of the original agreement was to eliminate 90 percent of all tariffs between member countries by Jan. 1, 2006, and reduce all trade tariffs to zero by 2015.

The agreement is comprehensive, covering all the main aspects of a free trade agreement, including trade in goods, rules of origin, trade remedies, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade in services, intellectual property, government procurement and competition policy.

Four countries, including Australia, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam are currently negotiating to join the group.


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