CPTPP to start accession talks for new members in 2019

Negotiators from the 11 signatories of Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), agreed on 19 July to start accession talks with potential new members in 2019, when the free trade pact goes into effect. Thailand, Indonesia, Columbia, South Korea and Taiwan may wish to join. 

The U.K. has also teased the idea of joining, as suggested by Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, as an alternative to bilateral trade deal between Japan and the U.K. However, the outcome of Brexit must be decided before it is known how much leeway the U.K. will have to forge its own deals.

The CPTPP is the successor to the TPP, which was renegotiated after the USA pulled out of the talks. Current signatories are Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Malaysia, Canada and Japan.

The negotiators met for two days, 18-19 July, in Hakone, a hot springs resort near Tokyo. Besides expanding the trade bloc, they also discussed the progress of each country in enacting domestic laws to put the accord into practice.

The pact takes effect 60 days after at least six countries complete their domestic procedures. Japan, Mexico and Singapore have already ended their ratification processes, and Australia, New Zealand and Vietnam are likely to complete them by the year-end. 

Japan completed its domestic procedures for ratification on 6 July, following Mexico. The Diet, Japan’s legislature, has also enacted legislation to support livestock farmers who will be exposed to foreign competition and to extend intellectual property rights as required by the agreement.

Japan’s ambassador to Canada last week, during a visit to Prince Edward Island, talked up benefits in seafood trade to the Maritime Provinces. Ambassador Kimihiro Ishikane noted that tariffs on mussels, crabs and lobster will be eliminated.


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