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By Lucien O. Chauvin
Dec. 2 — Peruvian Trade Minister Magali Silva said she is confident the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be ready for countries to sign as early as February.
Silva told foreign reporters Dec. 1 that the second legal scrub that began the same day in New Zealand would be the final review of the agreement in English. She said translations into French and Spanish also would require a legal review, but it would be easier once the English version is finished.
“The most tedious process is the legal review. When you have lawyers sitting down they will never want to stop combing over the text, but we believe that the work will be finished this month,” she said.
The legal review under way in New Zealand is scheduled to end Dec. 10, and Silva said that should conclude the process in English. She said the reviews in French, coordinated by Canada, and Spanish, coordinated by Mexico, should be finished in January.
The legal scrub is the process by which each country reviews the text of the agreement to make sure it is consistent in each of its official languages—in this case, English, Spanish and French—and that it says what it's supposed to say. Its purpose isn't to make changes to the spirt of the text, but to ensure accuracy and coherency within the document itself.
She said the agreement would be submitted to Peru's Congress once it is signed and approval would not be a problem. Silva said while the TPP agreement is a victory for all 12 countries, Peru is one of the principal beneficiaries.
“We are going to gain access to five new markets that could represent additional export earning of $2.25 billion annually in areas where we are competitive, such as agriculture, fishing and textiles,” she said.
The five new markets are Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand and Vietnam. Peru already has bilateral free trade agreements with six other TPP members: Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and the U.S.
Silva also said the TPP improves bilateral agreements with Canada and Japan, providing greater access to Peru's farm and fish products, as well as the sanitary and phytosanitary chapter in the existing trade agreement with the U.S. The trade promotion agreement with the U.S., implemented in February 2009, served as a foundation for Peru's subsequent agreements with 12 other trading partners, including China and the Europe Union.
The minister said that four other countries—Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand—already have asked to join the TPP once it is in place. “The TPP represents 40 percent of the world's economy. I think we will see more countries wanting to join,” she said (224 ITD, 11/20/15).
Peru hopes to use its role as host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 2016 to encourage expansion of the TPP. Deputy Trade Minister Edgar Vasquez said the TPP “is a strategic piece within the construction of the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.”
The 21 economies in APEC (all 12 TPP members are APEC nations) agreed at the leaders' summit in China in 2014 to conduct a feasibility study for the FTAAP. The results will be presented next November when the leaders meet in Lima, Peru's capital (219 ITD, 11/13/14).
Peru has set three priorities for APEC 2016, including progress toward negotiating the FTAAP, improving the effectiveness and connectivity of supply chains and fostering the internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Silva and Vasquez agreed that failure of the U.S. Congress to approve the TPP would be a problem, but not a death knell for the agreement.
“The possibility [of the U.S. not approving the TPP] exists, but we do not think it is high.
“Candidates tend to say things on the campaign that reflect their party, but once in power they represent an entire nation and opinions can change,” Silva said.
Vasquez said there are two mechanisms in the agreement for implementing the TPP. The first option is ratification by all countries, but if this does not happen within two years of the signing, the TPP can be implemented if at least six countries, representing 60 percent of the gross domestic product of the members, ratify it.
Given the size of the 12 economies in the TPP, the second mechanism would require either the U.S. or Japan to be among the six countries.
To contact the reporter on this story: Lucien O. Chauvin in Lima at email@example.com
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