TPP-11 members to sign revised trade pact on March 8 in Chile

TOKYO, Jan. 24 — One year after President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the remaining 11 members have ironed out differences and agreed to sign a revised pact on March 8 in Chile.

Senior TPP-11 officials settled the remaining differences in the new TPP — the Comprehensive Progressive TPP (CPTPP) — at two-day talks in Tokyo that ended on Jan. 23.

“We want to get the agreement to take effect as soon as possible,” Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters after the meeting. “I’m convinced Canada will sign up.”

The CPTPP will come into force after ratification by six of the 11 members. They are Japan, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Peru and Vietnam.

In November, the TPP-11 members had reached a political agreement to keep the trade deal alive without the U.S., while still unable to resolve four issues: the treatment of State-owned enterprises; services and investment; dispute settlement; and cultural exception.

During the original TPP negotiations, the U.S. had demanded that Canada abandon its rights to restrict access to foreign-made media content. Canada insisted on its importance to protect its culturally specific industries.

With the U.S. gone, Canada was demanding a change to this provision.

Under the new pact, the protection of culturally specific industry in Canada as well as a grace period for labor rights legislation in Vietnam, will be spelt out in separate documents, which will be exchanged with other members at the signing.

In addition, two clauses with the liberalization of Malaysia’s State-owned enterprises and Brunei’s service and investment will be added.

A total of 22 provisions in the original TPP will be put on ice, in case the U.S. returns to the deal. That is up from 20 as was agreed in November.

Japan now plans to pass related CPTPP legislation during its current parliamentary session. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc has a two-thirds “super majority” in both Parliament’s lower and upper chambers.

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