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By Lucien O. Chauvin
Jan. 5 — The 12 nations party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will formally sign the agreement on Feb. 4 in New Zealand.
Andres Rebolledo, director general of Chile's General International Economic Relations Bureau (DIRECON), confirmed the Feb. 4 date in a meeting yesterday with the country's National Human Rights Institute to discuss how the agreement would affect human rights issues in Chile.
“We are the only country that has agreements with the 11 other countries in the TPP and we secured important advantages in different areas that will allow us to stimulate trade relations with all our partners. The most important thing is that we achieved an agreement that favors the country's interests,” Rebolledo said in a statement released by DIRECON after the meeting.
Peru's Trade and Tourism Ministry (Mincetur) confirmed that Deputy Trade Minister Edgar Vasquez, the country's TPP negotiator, will be on hand for the signing ceremony in New Zealand.
The signing will come four months after the 12 countries in the TPP concluded negotiations in the U.S. on Oct. 5. The 12 countries include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam (193 ITD, 10/6/15).
“The signing will be a celebration, but the critical work comes after with the ratification process in national parliaments,” Gary Hufbauer, of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told Bloomberg BNA in a telephone interview.
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala's government hopes to submit the TPP for ratification to Peru's 130-member legislature when it returns to work in March after a two-month recess. The Humala government would like the agreement ratified by July 28, when his five-year term end. Humala is constitutionally banned from running for a consecutive term. Peru will hold presidential elections on April 10.
“The TPP is only good news for countries like Chile, Peru and Vietnam. It is a good legacy issue for a president,” said Hufbauer.
Peruvian Trade Minister Magali Silva said in December that Peru expects to have the agreement ratified this year and would like to have it implemented by June 2017.
The TPP can come into force once it is ratified by at least six countries. These six countries, however, must represent a minimum of 85 percent of the gross domestic product of the 12 members. In this scenario, Japan and the U.S. would have to be among this group of six.
Hufbauer said he expects the large economies in the TPP—Australia, Canada, Japan and Mexico—to wait and see what happens in the U.S. President Barack Obama's government would like to have the TPP ratified by July.
There is a chance, according to Hufbauer, that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could make a surprise move and take the lead on the agreement. His party has a majority in the Diet and passage, while not ensured, could come along party lines.
“From Obama's perspective, it would be great if Abe would go out front and put the TPP before the Diet,” he said.
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