'Significantly increased' chance TPP will be signed

  • 02/11/2017
Anti-TPP protesters in Wellington.
Anti-TPP protesters in Wellington. Photo credit: Simon Wong/Newshub.

Australia and the 10 remaining nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are edging towards sealing a comprehensive free trade pact.

The pact aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products across an 11-nation bloc whose trade totalled more than $500 billion last year.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced plans to ban foreign home purchases that should curb speculation without forcing TPP countries to renegotiate the pact.

It is an important victory in support of free trade ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit next week in Vietnam's central city of Danang.

"The momentum towards [an agreement] at the meeting in Danang has significantly increased," said Japan's chief TPP negotiator, Kazuyoshi Umemoto.

"The economic impact is certainly not small, but the even bigger message is this agreement can influence the global economic system and bring about peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific."

Negotiators gathered for three days in Urayasu, east of the Japanese capital, to narrow down which terms of the original 12-nation deal to suspend, so as to salvage the pact at the Vietnam summit.

Japan hopes the deal, which links 11 countries with a combined GDP of $18 trillion, can show other nations it can champion free trade in the absence of Washington's influence.

It could also help Japan resist US pressure for a two-way trade pact, which is likely to come up when President Donald Trump visits, from Sunday until Tuesday, for a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The TPP pact was thrown into doubt when Mr Trump pulled the United States out in January to prioritise protecting jobs.