New Zealand said Thursday it will host a signing ceremony for the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact in Auckland on Feb. 4 ahead of the implementation of one of the world’s largest free trade zones.
“New Zealand has issued invitations to TPP ministers to sign the agreement in Auckland,” trade minister Todd McClay said in a statement.
“Signature will mark the end of the TPP negotiating process,” McClay said. The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, including New Zealand, reached a broad agreement on the deal in October.
“Following signature, all 12 countries will be able to begin their respective domestic ratification processes and will have up to two years to complete that before the agreement enters into force,” McClay said.
“We hope to move forward as soon as we can after Feb. 3 when all the parties are ready to go,” U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, told reporters Wednesday in Washington, explaining the U.S. government could sign a TPP deal on the date at the earliest after completing relevant domestic procedures.
But it remains uncertain how soon after the signing the deal covering some 40 percent of the global gross domestic product will be implemented, as it requires various ratification processes including passage by the U.S. Congress.
Leaders of the Republican-controlled U.S. legislature have said debate on the TPP should take place after the presidential election in November or possibly the inauguration of the next president in January 2017.
In March 2010, the United States, Australia, Peru, Vietnam, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei launched negotiations for a broad Pacific Rim free trade deal. Malaysia joined the talks in October 2010, followed by Mexico and Canada in 2012 and Japan in 2013.
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