Room for more in the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

A new parliamentary inquiry will look into the merits of expanding the membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Chair of the Trade Sub-Committee of the Joint Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, Ted O’Brien, says now is the time to look at the opportunity for freer trade between Australia and potential new members.

“More trade equals more jobs and that’s precisely what we need right now,” Mr O’Brien said.

‘The question is, who should we be trading more with and is the TPP the right vehicle to make it happen?” said Mr O’Brien.

“We will examine the case for expanding the TPP to include new members that can commit to the existing Agreement, including on issues such as standards and market access,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We want to examine whether the TPP can be a vehicle to realise freer trade opportunities for Australian exporters as we seek to not only increase trade, but also diversify our trading relationships.”

Signed in Chile in 2018, the agreement more formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a trade bloc of 11 countries that includes Australia, is an export market of 500 million consumers worth nearly $14 trillion.

The agreement is now in force for most member states such as Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam, with Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia and Peru set to join after they complete their respective ratification processes. Importantly for Australia, this Agreement delivered its first ever trade deal with Canada and Mexico – both top 20 economies in the world.

“As an example of one sector benefitting from the CPTPP, near $500 million or 16 per cent of Australia’s wine exports in 2019 went to CPTPP countries and winemakers are now benefitting from elimination of all Canada's tariffs on wine,” Mr O’Brien said.

Submissions from any person, businesses or organisations with an interest in the issues raised by these terms of reference are welcome. Submissions addressing all or some of the terms of reference should be lodged by 18 February 2021.

Further details about the about the inquiry, including terms of reference, details on how to contribute a submission and, when available, details of public hearings and roundtable discussions, can be obtained from the Committee’s website.