Australia and other Pacific countries seal free-trade pact

TWELVE Pacific rim countries, including Australian, have sealed the deal on the world’s largest free-trade area, delivering US President Barack Obama a major political triumph.

After five years of negotiations, representatives from countries including American, New Zealand, Mexico and Malaysia met in the US city of Atlanta and came to agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) trade deal

The deal, led by the United States and Japan, aims to set the rules for 21st century trade and investment and press China, not one of the 12, to shape its behaviour in commerce to the TPP standards.


“After five years of intensive negotiations, we have come to an agreement that will create jobs, drive sustainable growth, foster inclusive development, and promote innovation across the Asia Pacific Region,” said US Trade Representative Michael Froman.

The hard-won deal to create the world’s largest free-trade area, encompassing 40 per cent of the global economy, came after five days of round-the-clock talks in an Atlanta hotel.

President Barack Obama, who made the TPP a priority of his second term, said the accord  “reflects America’s values and gives our workers the fair shot at success they deserve.”

“When more than 95 per cent of our potential customers live outside our borders, we can’t let countries like China write the rules of the global economy,” Obama said in a statement. “We should write those rules, opening new markets to American products while setting high standards for protecting workers and preserving our environment.”

More than 18,000 taxes imposed by various countries on US products will be eliminated thanks to the partnership, he added.

Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb says the deal will bring ‘enormous’ benefits for the nation.

He said in a statement, the deal will boost competitiveness and promote growth, job creation and higher living standards.

Besides slashing barriers to exports, services and investments, the deal will not make any changes to the five-year data protection for biologic medicines regime, he added.

The deal could reshape industries, and is aimed at reducing trade tariffs and trade barriers in sectors including agriculture, automotive products, services and intellectual property.

Full details of the deal are yet to be made public but critics have said it threatens to hurt jobs and consumers across the globe.