Despite US Withdrawal, Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement to be Signed in March

A revised free trade agreement involving 11 countries, minus original member United States, will be signed in Chile in March, Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi announced on Janaury 23.

Trade ministers negotiating in Tokyo over the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), also known as TPP-11, settled their differences a day after the US said it would levy temporary tariffs on imported washing machines and solar cells and panels, a decision dubbed as protectionist.

"We have made significant efforts to uphold the spirit and substance of the original agreement, while maintaining its high ambition and overall balance," said Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry. TPP-11 brings together Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam in an agreement that cuts tariffs on more than 18,000 items, improved access for service suppliers, greater facilitation of investments, and improved acces to government procurement contracts.

TPP-11 excludes the world's two largest economies -- the US and China -- but still represents a market of half a billion people that boasts a combine economic output of US$10 trillion. Even after the signing, the 11 members will still need to have their legislatures ratify the pact, which could mean that TPP-11 will come into force only in 2020.     

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