[24 January/Radio New Zealand Business]

Trade Minister, David Parker, has confirmed that the Trans Pacific Partnership is to be signed in March following talks in Tokyo.  The 11 remaining nations, following the USA withdrawing last year, have revived the agreement that will eliminate more than 98 percent of tariffs in the free-trade zone.  The deal had looked dead in November when Canada walked away from negotiations, however several issues have been resolved and Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau called the agreement the right deal.  The agreement will be signed in Chile as the rebranded Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Trade experts called the deal less problematic than the initial agreement with a number of areas, particularly the intellectual property provisions, having been suspended.  Concerns still exist around the secrecy surrounding the deal, with the final text not expected to be revealed until after signing; Todd McClay National’s trade spokesperson said that the original agreement’s text was released before signing.  He noted that National was open to supporting the necessary legislation but that would depend on the details.