Pacific Trade Pact to begin in late 2018 after six members have ratified

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – A milestone of eleven members aiming to overcome the barriers in some of the fastest-growing economies in the Asia-Pacific region will come into effect in late December, the New Zealand government said Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker signs the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Agreement on 8 March 2018 in Santiago de Chile. REUTERS / Ivan Alvarado

The deal would continue after Australia notified New Zealand that it was the sixth country to officially ratify the agreement alongside Canada, Japan, Mexico and Singapore.

"This will trigger the countdown of 60 days to the entry into force of the agreement and the first tariff reduction round," said New Zealand Minister of Trade and Export Growth, David Parker. His country is responsible for official tasks such as receiving and sharing notifications by members of the pact.

The original 12-member deal was blown off early last year as President Donald Trump scrapped the agreement to protect jobs in the US.

The eleven remaining nations, led by Japan, finalized a revised trade pact in January, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The success of the agreement was commended by officials in Japan and other member states as an antidote to growing US protectionism and with the hope that Washington would eventually re-enter.

Australia said the agreement will boost agricultural exports, which this year will be worth more than A $ 52 billion ($ 36.91 billion), despite the drought that is spreading across much of the country's east coast.

"It will give Australian grain growers a good reason to smile at a time when drought conditions have been a mess for many, ensuring better market access and better grain prices once the more favorable seasonal conditions emerge," said Luke Mathews, Commercial and business manager in the industry, GrainGrowers Australia.

The agreement will lower tariffs in economies, which together account for more than 13 percent of global GDP – $ 10 trillion in total. In the United States this would have been 40 percent.

The five member states that still have to ratify the agreement are Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam.

Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield and Praveen Menon in WELLINGTON,; Additional coverage by Colin Packham in Sydney; Arrangement of William Maclean & Shri Navaratnam

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