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New Zealand: US-led Pacific free trade pact inked by 12 countries

5th Feb 2016
New Zealand: US-led Pacific free trade pact inked by 12 countries

By P Prem Kumar

 

KUALA LUMPUR (AA) – Trade ministers from 12 countries have inked a controversial United States-led regional trade agreement in New Zealand, paving the path for freer movement of goods and services between the member economies.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which drew heavy criticism in Malaysia and other participating countries in response to sensitive chapters, was signed Thursday in downtown Auckland.

The trade ministers held a morning meeting at the Skycity Convention Centre, followed by a cultural performance before the signing ceremony, according to The Star Online.

The agreement is expected to be ratified by each country’s legislature over the next two years.

In addition to the U.S., New Zealand and Malaysia, member countries include Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam and Brunei — which together account for more than 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

The TPP is expected to open up a market with a population of 800 million and a gross domestic product worth $27.5 trillion for mutual benefit of the countries participating in the pact.

Negotiations on the agreement were completed in the U.S. city of Atlanta in early October. The TPP has been a source of criticism from many quarters within and outside the 12 member countries.

Concern has especially been expressed about the law amendments needed in the countries involved to accommodate the standards stated in the pact, particularly in the areas of investor state dispute settlement, or ISDS, government procurement, the business potential of local small and medium enterprises and patents for biologics, which would determine drug prices upon the TPP’s ratification.

In Malaysia, major concerns have revolved around ISDS, government procurement and Bumiputera special rights — privileges granted to ethnic Malays who are considered economically weaker than the minority ethnic Chinese.

 

 

[Photo:Demonstrators participate in a protest against the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), in Lima, Peru, on February 4, 2016.

Photographer: Sebastian Castañeda/AA]

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