Human Rights

Explainer: The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Australia

TPP negotiations (AAP) Source: EPA

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the world's largest regional trade agreement, involving 12 nations and covering about 40 per cent of the global economy, but what does it mean for Australia?

The TPP agreement is a major trade agreement between the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam.

* Australia joined the negotiations in late 2008 and Trade Minister Andrew Robb has been our lead negotiator since the coalition government was elected in 2013.

* The TPP will eliminate more than 98 per cent of tariffs in the region, removing import taxes on about $9 billion of Australian trade.

* Beyond market access, the TPP creates a single set of trade and investment rules between its members countries making it easier and simpler for Australian companies to trade in the region.

What countries are involved?

* Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

* Even though Australia already have bilateral trade agreements with some of these countries, the government says the deal involving all TPP member will break new ground and give our industries more access to markets.

* Last year, one third of Australia's total goods and services exports - worth $109 billion - was sent to TPP countries.

* The signatory countries' economies are vastly different, with a wide gap in GDP per capita ($US) between some countries. 

What does the deal cover?

* Exports, including beef, dairy, grains, sugar, horticulture, seafood, wine, resources and energy, and manufactured and other goods.

* It also addresses modern trade and investment issues such as competition, e-commerce, anti-corruption and levelling the playing field between private business and state-owned enterprises.

* The TPP will not require any changes to Australia's intellectual property laws or policies, whether in copyright, pharmaceutical patents or enforcement.

* Australia's five years of data protection for biologic medicines (made from genetically-engineered proteins derived from human genes) will remain unchanged. The TPP will not increase the price of medicines in Australia.

What happens next?

* The TPP needs to be approved by the parliaments, where they exist, of participants.

* That's when the so-far secret details of the agreement will become public.

* There's likely to be opposition to the deal in the US where concerns have been raised by both Republican and Democrat Congress representatives.

* The Australian parliament is likely to consider the deal before the end of the year.

* If all goes well, it could become effective in Australia by mid-2016 - at the earliest.

The specifics: Agriculture

* BEEF: Tariffs cut to nine per cent; tariffs to Mexico and Canada eliminated within 10 years, AUSFTA beef safeguard to US cut.

* SUGAR: Doubles market access to US (extra 65,000 tonnes), additional future quota allocations which could have sugar exports to US climb above 400,000 tonnes by 2019-20; levy high polarity sugar reduced to Japan, refined sugar tariff to Canada cut; raw sugar tariff to Peru cut; first time wholesale licencing arrangements for supply of refined sugar to the food and beverage industries in Malaysia liberalised.

* RICE: More exports to Japan. Tariffs to Mexico eliminated.

* DAIRY: Tariffs to Japan cut on range of cheeses, new preferential access on extra $100 million of trade, new quota access for butter and skim milk powder. Mozzarella blended with Japanese cheese duty-free. Access for 9,000 more tonnes of cheese to US, tariff cut on milk powders and Swiss cheese. New preferential access into Mexico and Canada.

* CEREALS: Tariffs on wheat, barley exports to Canada cut, Mexico within 10 years. Reductions of the mark-ups applied to wheat and barley in Japan.

* WINE: Tariffs to Mexico cut between three to 10 years, Canada upon entry into force, Peru within 6 years and, for the first time, Malaysia and Vietnam.

* SEAFOOD: Tariffs to Canada and Peru cut on entry into force, Japan within 16 years and Mexico within 15 years.

Resources and energy

* Immediate cut of tariffs on iron ore, copper and nickel to Peru.

* Tariff cut on butanes, propane and liquefied natural gas to Vietnam within seven years.

* Vietnam's 20 per cent tariffs on refined petroleum cut.


* Tariffs cut on iron and steel products exported to Canada, and to Vietnam within 10 years.

* Ship tariffs in Canada over 6 to 11 years cut.

* Tariffs on pharmaceutical, machinery, mechanical and electrical appliances and automotive parts to Mexico cut within 10 years.

* Elimination of tariffs on pharmaceuticals to Peru over 11 years.

* Elimination of duties on paper and paperboard to Peru over 11 years.

* Elimination of tariffs on automotive parts to Vietnam over 10 years.

* Businesses can bid for tenders to supply goods eg. drugs and pharmaceutical products, electronic components and supplies used for government purposes in Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.


* MINING EQUIPMENT SERVICES AND TECHNOLOGIES AND OILFIELD SERVICES: Providers will get new commercial opportunities, for example through Mexico's liberalising energy sector and Vietnam mining investment regime.

* FINANCIAL SERVICES: New opportunities to TPP countries. We can give investment advice and portfolio management services to collective investment schemes, insurance of risks relating to maritime shipping and international commercial aviation and freight

* TEMPORARY ENTRY OF BUSINESS PEOPLE: Preferential temporary entry arrangements for Australian business men and women and spouses to key TPP markets, including the waiving of work permits and provision of automatic work rights for spouses in Brunei Darussalam, Canada and Mexico.

* EDUCATION SERVICES: Australian universities and vocational education providers will benefit from guaranteed access to a number of existing and growth markets in Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam, including being able to offer a wider range of courses to Vietnamese students, our third largest export market. Online education services supply.

* TRANSPORT SERVICES: Providers to Malaysia and Vietnam will get strong trade and investment protections for the first time. Future liberalisation of investment regulations in aviation in Vietnam and freight trucking in Malaysia and Vietnam, key markets for our airlines and logistics providers.

* TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICES: Companies could benefit from phasing out of foreign equity limits in Vietnam's telecommunications sector five years after the entry into force of the TPP, and ability to apply to wholly-owned telecommunications ventures in Malaysia.

* HEALTH SERVICES: Greater certainty around access and operating conditions in Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam.

* HOSPITALITY AND TOURISM SERVICES: Travel agencies, tour operators get guaranteed access in Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico and Peru; greater certainty regarding access and operating conditions in Malaysia and Vietnam. Increased demand for domestic tourism services, boosting rural tourism.

* GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT: New opportunities for Australian business to bid for government procurement services contracts, such as accounting and tax in Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam; consulting services in Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Mexico and Peru etc.

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