Vietnam, partners look to sign Pacific-rim trade pact in February

Thanh Nien News

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A garment factory in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Diep Duc Minh A garment factory in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Diep Duc Minh
It will be then up to legislators in each of the 12 member states to ratify or block the world's biggest free trade agreement

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The Vietnamese government expects to sign an agreement with 11 other nations in early February to finalize their negotiated terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, taking another step to turn one of the most ambitious trade pacts into reality. 
According to local media, Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang made the announcement at a government meeting this week, saying that the agreement, better known as TPP, would possibly take effect in 2018.
The upcoming signing is considered a crucial step before the deal can be ratified by legislatures of the participating countries -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the US, Singapore, and Vietnam
There have been media reports that the Vietnamese government is likely to submit the TPP to the National Assembly for ratification in June or later.
News website Japan Times also reported Tuesday that the signatory nations are planning to sign "the broad agreement" in early February.
The TPP will not take effect unless at least six countries accounting for 85 percent of the gross domestic product of the bloc ratify the treaty, it said.
Hoang allayed concerns that the government has yet to provide local businesses with support to compete with multinational corporations.
One of the problems is inadequate information about the deal, with 40.9 percent of businesses polled in a recent survey by business school PACE and the Institute for Research on Educational Development saying they have no idea about the TPP.
The minister said other TPP members have agreed to give Vietnam some time to make preparations before the agreement takes effect so that its government and businesses can strengthen competitiveness.
The world's biggest trade bloc covering 40 percent of the global economy, the TPP is forecast to add US$23.5 billion to Vietnam’s GDP by 2020 and $33.5 billion by 2025.
It is also expected to increase the country’s exports by $68 billion by 2025.

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