Blackbook Executive

Australia sign on to trade deal in Chile

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo is optimistic the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact will take effect by the end of the year after Australia signed on to the 11-country deal.

The deal will eliminate 98 per cent of tariffs in a marketplace worth close to $US14 trillion.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Chile, Ciobo said the legislation to formalise the pact would be introduced to parliament this month ahead of a joint standing committee an inquiry into the TPP. He expects Australia’s domestic processes to be settled by the end of September.

“This is a very good day for trade,” Ciobo told a media conference in Santiago on Friday (AEDT). “We are sending a mutual signal that we recognise the policy orthodoxy of trade.”

The deal had been on life support after the United States’ withdrawal but was resuscitated in January following lobbying from Japan and Australia.

“Trade is good for economic growth, trade is good for jobs, trade is good for promoting prosperity,” Ciobo said.

He said Australian farmers, manufacturers, service providers and small businesses would be the big winners. Australian exporters would benefit from new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

There is also a better deal for Australian cheese and beef exports to Japan, and new quotas for rice and wheat. Australian sugar would also have better access to Japan, Canada and Mexico’s markets. The TPP deal covers Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

It comes as the US President signalled Australia may be exempt to a 25 per cent tariff on steel and 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imports. Trump is expected to announce his tariff plans at the White House on Thursday (Friday 7.30am AEDT).

The president singled out Australia, with praise for the “very close” relationship between the two countries after signalling he would be flexible with the detail of the penalties. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who had been lobbying for an exemption, argued the TPP signing was an important statement in the cause of trade liberalisation.

“A huge demonstration of our relentless commitment to getting every export opportunity made available for Australian businesses,” Turnbull said.

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