Singapore businesses call for speedy ratification of Trans-Pacific trade deal

A handout photo shows New Zealand Prime Minister John Key clapping during the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement in Auckland, New Zealand, 04 February 2016. PHOTO: EPA
A handout photo shows New Zealand Prime Minister John Key clapping during the signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement in Auckland, New Zealand, 04 February 2016. PHOTO: EPA

SINGAPORE - The business community here said they welcomed the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and called for it to be ratified as soon as possible.

Until that happens, the full benefits of the deal will not be unlocked, they noted.

The TPP, viewed as the most important trade deal negotiated in decades, was signed on Thursday in New Zealand by ministers from its 12 member nations.

The deal is a far-reaching agreement involving 12 countries which make up 40 per cent of the world economy.

The nations - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam - now have two years to ratify or reject the pact.

"Today is a significant achievement, but we have not reached the finish line," said Ms Judith Fergin, the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.

"To unlock the full potential of the agreement, governments and businesses must continue to work together to ensure prompt approval and implementation of the TPP," she added.

The chamber's chairman James Andrade said the agreement will deliver far-reaching benefits for American businesses already in the region, and signal to other companies that "now is the time to explore opportunities around the Pacific".

Mr Ho Meng Kit, the chief executive of the Singapore Business Federation, said this latest development is good news for the Singapore business community, especially given the poor global economic outlook and lacklustre trade growth.

"The TPP is a high quality agreement that will hopefully provide a boost of confidence in the current environment as it will present more opportunities for companies seeking to do business in the Asia Pacific and catalyse new growth," he said.

"The agreement will also serve as a pathway towards a Free Trade Agreement of the Asia-Pacific."