11 countries reach agreement on TPP.

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According to a Prime Minister of Australia press release, 11 countries have agreed to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in March of this year.

After the US withdrew from the TPP, the remaining 11 countries are: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The TPP is expected to eliminate more than 98% of tariffs in a trade zone with a combined GDP of $13.7 trillion, check back here for the text of the agreement once it is made public.

If you have any trade or customs law issues and want to speak to an experienced trade law attorney, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Serbia and Turkey sign new free trade agreement.

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According to a B92.net news article, Serbia and Turkey signed a new free trade agreement. The signing took place on January 30th and will allow Serbia duty-free exports to Turkey of beef, raw and refined sunflower oil, sunflower seeds and some milling products.

In addition to duty free exports, quotas for certain types of frozen fruit exports to Turkey will also be doubled.

Current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Developments since the US Withdrawal.

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The 2017 APEC Summit was held in Da Nang this year from November 6th – 11th.

At this meeting, 11 countries in the Pacific Rim decided to continue plans for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after the US withdrawal.

The former agreement known as TPP was renamed the “Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership” or (CPTPP). The primary reason for the change was the old TPP agreement required ratification within two years by economies that consitute 85% of the total GDP of the 12 members. The US withdrawal from TPP leaves Japan unable to constitute 85% of the total GDP (the US constituted 60% of the former TPP bloc’s combined GDP). The 11 remaining countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam – agreed to revise the 85% total GDP ratification clause.

Since the US withdrawal, there have been four rounds of negotiations and the details of the CPTPP are yet to be released. However, based on the Government of Canada Ministerial Statement on CPTPP, the CPTPP appears to replicate the original TPP.

The 11 current members still are committed to key trade industries as textiles, removing barriers to trade, addressing competition, state-owned enterprises and labor and dispute settlements.

The main difference with the new CPTPP agreement versus the old TPP are the removal of approximately 20 provisions requested by the US. Some provisions requested by the US included a copyright protection rule of 70 years. Under the new CPTPP, the copyright protection has been reduced to 50 years. Other differences concern competition rules for state-owned enterprises and change in time required for trade unions to be subject to dispute settlement measures.

As of today, the revised CPTPP agreement has been agreed to in principle at the summit but remains to be ratified.