TOKYO – Trade ministers of 11 countries recently completed negotiations on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnerships (CPTPP) and are working toward signing the multinational trade pact on March 8 in Chile. The agreement could come into force later this year.

After President Trump withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership in January 2017, the 11 remaining countries continued negotiations. After two days of negotiations in Tokyo, the countries eventually reached consensus on several remaining core elements of the agreement on Jan. 23. Members of the CPTPP include Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

“Reaching this milestone on the CPTPP is great news for Canadian farmers and food processors as it will help grow the Canadian economy, including the middle class, and deliver prosperity to rural communities across the country,” Lawrence MacAulay, Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said in a statement. “It will give the Canadian agricultural industry preferential access to all CPTPP countries and will provide new market access opportunities for a wide range of Canadian products, including meat, grains, pulses, maple syrup, wines and spirits, seafood and agri-food products.”

David Parker, Minister for Trade and Export Growth for New Zealand said the CPTPP will grant the country’s exporters preferential access for the first time into Japan, which is the fifth-largest export market for New Zealand.

“It will also be New Zealand’s first FTA relationship with Canada, our 13th largest export market, Mexico (21st) and Peru (46th),” Parker said in a statement.

Parker added that “The CPTPP is even more important to signatory countries given current threats to the effectiveness of the WTO and rising protectionism in many parts of the world. United States President Donald Trump has just announced a new 30 percent tariff on imports of solar cells. This is but one example.”

For Singapore, the agreement is key to unlocking the benefits of the original Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the successful negotiations “…reaffirm the CPTPP countries’ collective commitment towards greater trade liberalization and regional integrations,” according to a statement from the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Singapore.

“Singapore is pleased by the good outcome on the CPTPP. We have made significant efforts to uphold the spirit and substance of the original agreement, while maintaining its high ambition and overall balance,” Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang said in a statement. “The CPTPP will enhance trade among countries in the Asia-Pacific, resulting in more seamless flows of goods, services, and investment regionally. Singapore companies will gain from the substantial elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers for goods, improved access for service suppliers in a wide range of sectors, greater facilitation of investments, and improved access to government procurement contracts.”

Raj Bhala, associate dean for International and Comparative Law at the Univ. of Kansas and a senior adviser at Dentons US, a Kansas City, Missouri law firm, said during a forum on North American Free Trade negotiations that trade agreements involving NAFTA members Canada and Mexico could serve as a warning sign to the US.

“If Canada and Mexico give a signal that they are putting their resources into [CPTPP] — finalizing it and giving up on NAFTA — that really changes thinking for businesses in this area and across the country,” Bhala said at the time.