TPP 11 to take effect in Australia before end of year

Trade agreement that covers 500 million people to clear its hurdles in Australia during 2018.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Eleven Pacific countries have signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, pushing ahead with the deal without America.

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

The deal will eliminate 98 percent of tariffs in a marketplace worth close to $14 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 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. "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.

"The world will be drinking more Australian wine, eating more Australian beef, and using more Australian services thanks to the TPP 11," Ciobo said.

Ciobo said several other countries had expressed "peripheral interest" in joining the TPP.

Speculation has rested on Indonesia, Thailand, Britain, and Columbia.

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.

Last month, the New Zealand government published the intellectual property chapter of the TPP 11, which detailed the safe harbour and fair use clauses agreed to between the parties, similar to those found in the floundered original TPP.

The agreement sets out enforcement obligations against the infringement of copyright, including civil and criminal penalties with an aim of deterring future piracy, as well as civil remedies and compensation.

"Each party shall provide that in civil judicial proceedings, its judicial authorities have the authority at least to order the infringer to pay the right holder damages adequate to compensate for the injury the right holder has suffered," it says.

Criminal penalties are set out for cases of piracy on a commercial scale.

The agreement gives ISPs safe harbour against piracy actions for providing connections, automated caching, storage, and referring or linking of users to online locations.

"This framework of legal remedies and safe harbours shall include: Legal incentives for internet service providers to cooperate with copyright owners to deter the unauthorised storage and transmission of copyrighted materials or, in the alternative, to take other action to deter the unauthorised storage and transmission of copyrighted materials," the agreement states.

Ciobo confirmed there was a side deal with Canada for the phase-out of tariffs on beef exports over five years.

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 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminium imports.

Trump is expected to announce his tariff plans at the White House on Friday morning.

The president singled out Australia, with praise for the "very close" relationship between the two countries after indicating he would be flexible with the detail of the penalties.

Australian 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.

Following the withdrawal of the United States in January last year, at least half of the nations involved in the TPP have said they would instead consider Chinese-led multilateral trade deals such as the RCEP.

In recent months, the United States has stepped up its anti-Chinese rhetoric, particularly in the realm of technology.

In February, the heads of the CIA, FBI, NSA, and the director of national intelligence to the Senate Intelligence Committee recommended Americans do not use products from Huawei and ZTE.

"We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks," FBI Director Chris Wray said at the time. "That provides the capacity to exert pressure or control over our telecommunications infrastructure. It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage."

Earlier this week, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) said the attempts by Broadcom to purchase Qualcomm could pose a risk to the national security of the United States.

CFIUS stated that should Broadcom take control, it could weaken Qualcomm and allow China to have greater influence over standards like 5G.

With AAP

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