AFP, 03 June 2005
S’pore, Brunei, Chile, NZ sign trans-Pacific trade pact
JEJU, South Korea: New Zealand, Brunei, Chile and Singapore announced a trans-Pacific free trade pact to improve market access between the countries.
The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement was endorsed by ministers representing the four countries at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum’s trade ministers meeting here.
Scheduled to enter into force on January 1, 2006, the pact outlines market-opening measures in areas covering goods and services, intellectual property rights and cooperation in science and technology.
The four partners said the pact would help promote free trade and liberalization and countries could join even after it goes into affect.
The combined gross domestic product of the four countries last year reached 280 billion dollars, making it a notable player in global trade.
Brunei, which had not been a member of the negotiations from the outset in 2002, was allowed to join as a founding member.
Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang described the agreement as the latest model of a free trade accord.
"We expect other APEC members (to join), but membership in the trans-Pacific SEP is open to other countries including those that belong to the European Union," he said.
In a statement issued in Wellington, Prime Minister Helen Clark said the pact would offer significant trade gains for New Zealand exporters with the elimination of tariffs and the opening up of markets for them.
"However the real strength of this partnership agreement lies in the bridges it forges across the Pacific. I expect to see this agreement grow in the future as we have already witnessed with Brunei joining in part way through the negotiating process," she said.
She said that New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei have also concluded in parallel negotiations an agreement on environment cooperation and a memorandum of understanding on labour cooperation.
"These binding instruments promote sound labour policies and practices and enhance environmental quality in both countries through co-operation and dialogue," Clark said.