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Korea mulls entering new Pacific trade pact

10 March 2018

The argy-bargy over America's proposed tariffs on steel and aluminium is set to briefly take a back seat as 11 nations sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

The government has already begun taking steps to amend laws to pave way for implementation of Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) "as early as possible", International Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed said in a statement. "Along with Canada and Chile, we have pledged to work together to promote transparency", Parker said. The agreement would have covered 40% of world trade with the Americans in it.

The United States under Donald Trump may not be a huge fan of free trade across borders, but that's not stopping other countries from embracing it.

This comes as worldwide ratings firm Moody's Investors Service said today Malaysia is likely to benefit the most from today's new trade deal involving 11 countries on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

The final text of the CPTPP agreement was released last month, and it will remove more than 98 percent of tariffs between members of the new trade bloc, which include: Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

"While taxes are going to be applied to certain products and there is a threat of a trade war, we are going to give a signal of openness", Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz said ahead of the signing at 2am today, Singapore time.

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The European Union said this week that it is ready to retaliate against Trump's tariffs - of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminum imports - with counter-measures against iconic US products like Harley Davidson motorcycles, Levi's jeans and bourbon.

President Trump partially backed away Thursday from ill-considered steel and aluminum tariffs, exempting Canada and Mexico.

Joshua Rich, partner at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff, said: "In the end, by withdrawing from the TPP, the United States has lost much of the leverage it could have used to bring the other countries' IP protections up to the level of the United States".

The CPTPP and talks with Mercosur are part of the Canadian strategy to diversify as its traditional and largest trading partner, the US, is shrouded in uncertainty because of the potential for an increase in steel and aluminum tariffs.

"We look forward to seeing the member states complete their domestic ratification process and start accepting new members, including Taiwan, to expand the benefits of the agreement", the ministry said. "It becomes a modest liberalization measure". Officials signed the deal Thursday in Santiago, Chile.

"China did not participate in the CPTPP Agreement".

Korea mulls entering new Pacific trade pact