Trans Pacific Partnership signed in NZ

The Trans Pacific Partnership, one of the biggest trade deals in history, was signed yesterday in Auckland.

Representing Australia, the Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb was among twelve signatories of the document which will eliminate 98 per cent of tariffs between them.

Robb said this agreement brings enormous promise across both traditional areas of trade and investment and so-called 21st century areas like e-commerce and increasingly important global value chains.

“The tariff cuts will deliver material gains for our exporters across the board and place downward pressure on the cost of imported goods for households and businesses, but the benefits that will flow from the creation of a more seamless trading environment are not well understood,” he said in a statement.

“The embrace of paperless trading, streamlined customs procedures and trading rules, assistance for SMEs, more seamless data flows and greater flexibility with data storage, are all features of the TPP. The agreement also contains provisions to help stimulate new investment and as experience shows, when you deepen trading relations increased investment inevitably follows.”

As the ABC reports, the nations involved now have two years to ratify the TPP. It will be tabled in the Australian Parliament next week and will be reviewed by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, over the next few months.

Not everybody supports the deal. Community groups, unions are others oppose the "investor-state dispute settlement" clause, which allows companies to sue governments over laws which hurt their commercial interests.

Apart from Australia, the other TPP members are New Zealand, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.