A trade agreement encompassing a population of 500 million people and exports of US$2.5 trillion was signed in the Chilean capital Santiago today, with ministers from countries involved highlighting paragraphs that provide environmental and labor rights safeguards.
After U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) last year, the remaining nations stayed committed to reaching a deal and are today celebrating the revamped Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
The participating nations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, with a combined GDP of US$10.6 trillion.
And as far as the produce industry is concerned, the most significant milestone in the CPTPP is that horticultural trade tariffs will be eliminated, pending ratification within the legislations of the various countries.
Chile’s Foreign Affairs Minister Heraldo Muñoz proclaimed the agreement would bring “inclusive economic growth” to citizens of the signatory countries, and benefits would not just flow to large multinationals but also small- and medium-sized companies which are also included in the agreement.
Muñoz said the CPTPP would be open to any country that was able to accept its conditions and that the deal was “not against anyone”, adding his hopes that someday China would also join. When asked about Colombia’s absence in the partnership, he said from Chile’s perspective the country would be invited “with open arms”.
“Trade is not a race to the bottom. I think it’s a march to the top,” added Canada’s Minister for International Trade, Francois-Phillippe Champagne.
Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, highlighted the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as an example of the benefits such agreements can bring, including mention of the produce sector.
“Today the [Mexican] citizen is connected to a large extent to the profits of global integration. We are the biggest exporters of avocados in the world so there is a set of happy farmers because on the night of Super Bowl, 95 million avocados are sold to make guacamole that night,” he said.
“This CPTPP for Mexico adds another element which is the inclusion of environmental and labor rights. Clearly, if we are large exporters of tomatoes the benefit isn’t just for the company owner, but for the worker who has their rights guaranteed and their right to a living wage.”
The ministerial statement for the agreement can be found here.