Pacific Rim countries sign sweeping free trade agreement

Pacific Rim countries sign sweeping free trade agreement

To take force, the agreement (a revised version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership), will need ratification by a majority of member countries.

Yesterday, Trump went ahead with his threat to impose levies of up to 25% on steel and aluminium imports in a move that will impact the broader United States economy, decreasing demand - an assessment apparently echoed by the financial markets, which saw stocks tank following the announcement.

The agreement was on shaky ground previous year when US President Donald Trump pulled his country from negotiations for what was then known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Unfortunately, Trump shredded the best means to counter China, just days after taking office.

The agreement aims to strengthen trade among countries in the Asia-Pacific.

He has since suggested a possible return if the United States could strike a "substantially better deal". What's more Trump's move Thursday to formally order tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum likely won't bode well for US trade relations, as more than a few countries have promised retaliation measures.

Malaysia stands to benefit the most by joining a revamped Trans-Pacific Partnership, Moody's Investors Service said Friday, as 11 countries signed the slimmed-down trade deal without the USA overnight.

Last month, Trump told the World Economic Forum in Davos that the U.S. might return if it got a better deal.

Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz even described it as "the most important free trade agreement and the most rigorous that has been signed until now in the world".

"Most importantly, this agreement is the first of its kind to specifically address wine-related technical barriers to trade through the inclusion of a wine and spirits annex".

Japan has led the way in working out the revised version of the deal and finalizing negotiations in January this year after the USA pullout of the trade accord, which was initially championed by Trump's predecessor President Barack Obama.

Analysts noted these provisions were not canceled, however, with some suggesting the door is being left ajar for the US.

AUSTRALIA'S signing overnight of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will deliver benefits through improving its access to markets including Japan and Mexico, according to national grain producers' representative body, GrainGrowers. It will expand Singapore's economic space, boost trade and investment flows, make it easier for our companies to do business in the region, and unlock economic development opportunities.

"As such, we strongly encourage the Australian Government to vigorously pursue and conclude the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which includes the critical ASEAN, Indian and Chinese markets, and the Australia-European Union Free Trade Agreement".