Australia signs on to Pacific trade deal

March 09, 2018

Steven Ciobo, here with Malcolm Turnbull, will join his counterparts for the TPP signing ceremony.

Despite withdrawing the US from the free trade pact, President Donald Trump is set to steal some of the spotlight from the Trans-Pacific Partnership just hours after it's signed in Chile.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo will join his counterparts from 10 Pacific countries for the signing ceremony on Friday at 5am (AEDT).

The deal had been on life support after the United States' withdrawal but was resuscitated in January following lobbying from Japan and Australia.

Mr Trump is expected to sign a presidential proclamation setting up 25 per cent tariff on steel and 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imports at 7.30am Friday (AEDT), with the measures taking effect two weeks later.

Australia is among the countries hoping to secure an exemption and the White House opened up the prospect of some wiggle room on Thursday.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who had been lobbying for an exemption, argued the TPP signing was an important statement in the cause of trade liberalisation.

"A huge demonstration of our relentless commitment to getting every export opportunity made available for Australian businesses," Mr Turnbull said.

The deal will eliminate 98 per cent of tariffs in a marketplace worth close to $14 trillion.

Mr Ciobo said Australian farmers, manufacturers, service providers and small businesses would be the big winners.

"It sends an important message to the world that prosperity is achieved through breaking down trade barriers not building them," he said.

Australian exporters would benefit from new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

There is also a better deal for Australian cheese and beef exports to Japan, and new quotas for rice and wheat.

Australian sugar would also have better access to Japan, Canada and Mexico's markets.

The TPP deal covers Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

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