TRANSPACIFIC Trade Ministers meeting in Chile decided to go ahead with the TPP — without the USA.
Australia’s Trade Minister, Steven Ciobo, said all countries were dedicated to progressing the TPP.
Japan was particularly enthusiastic — a good sign for Australia’s agricultural producers — as that may accelerate market openings beyond the bilateral agreement.
Discussion about how to include China (not in the TPP and offering its own trade agreement) and the USA was overshadowed by practical issues about how to progress issues such as a common digital document platform (which could be a huge advance for Australian exporters), food and packaging standards, and dealing with sensitive items such as local food protection.
While it may be dismissed as a talkfest to keep TPP alive through the Trump administration, officials said progress on issues such as import protocols and simplifying ‘paperwork’ would in themselves have major advantages, especially in the food sector.
The fact that countries with major export potential for Australia, such as Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia, supported TPP continuing highlighted their nervousness about a China-dominated trade pact, as well as their commitment to opening trade.