Eleven nations, including Mexico and some of the fastest growing economies in the Asia-Pacific region, signed on Thursday March 8th, a historic agreement in Chile to reduce trade barriers, at a time when the United States is pointing to growing protectionism and threats with unleashing a tariff war.
In a ceremony headed by Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, the members of the emerging block signed the so-called Global and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP11), one of the largest trade international alliances that have appeared in the last 20 years.
The signing of the agreement, one of the three largest in the world, occurs just as the president of the United States, Donald Trump, enlists a plan to decree heavy tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.
“In addition to being a strong signal against protectionist pressures, it is in favor of a world open to trade, without unilateral sanctions and without the threat of commercial wars,” Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz told reporters.
TPP 11, which includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, establishes mechanisms to eliminate tariffs on industrial and agricultural products in an area with a commercial exchange that exceeds 3.84 billion US dollars.
“We are proud (…) to show the world that progressive trade is the way forward,” said French Foreign Minister Francois-Phillippe Champagne.
The pact, which does not delve into controversial issues such as intellectual property, reaffirms the main axes agreed a year ago by the block, but that suffered adjustments after the United States withdrew from the negotiations with the arrival of Trump to the White House.
According to calculations of the economic area of the Chilean chancellery, the trade pact covers a market of 498 million people, with a Gross Domestic Product per capita of 28,090 US dollars, and represents 13 percent of the global economy.
Along with preserving the essence of the original TPP, the negotiated agreement incorporates 20 agreed suspensions to safeguard the balance sheets among the 11 countries, especially in terms of intellectual property in sectors such as pharmaceutical and copyright.
The pact also considers environental protection measurest and opens the door to new partnerships with other nations.
Despite his original opposition, Trump said in January that Washington could sign the agreement. Australia also mentioned a few weeks ago that it is open to the idea of Britain joining the block after leaving the European Union.
TPP11 will take effect 60 days after it is ratified by six of the 11 member countries. The final approval must be delivered by the respective Congresses in about a month or so.
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