TPP nations arranging to sign free-trade deal in early February


Japan, the United States and 10 other nations that reached a broad agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade pact in October are arranging to sign the deal in early February, an official from one of the nations has said.

Following the broad agreement after more than five years of negotiations, the 12 nations released the text of the landmark trade deal in November. The signing envisioned in early February will finalize that.

TPP countries have been working on measures to support their domestic industries, and small and midsize firms that may face stiff competition from cheaper imports once the treaty goes into force. At the same time, they are expected to pursue ratification of the pact either through parliamentary approval or by other means.

Ministers and other officials in charge of the TPP from the 12 countries are expected to attend the signing ceremony. The countries are also discussing where the ceremony will be held.

The TPP will take effect if at least six countries accounting for 85 percent of the gross domestic product of the bloc ratify the treaty.

However, with the November 2016 presidential election coming up, congressional leaders in the United States have voiced concern that the TPP pact should not be sent to the legislature for approval until after the election.

Last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government will try to obtain parliamentary approval for ratification as quickly as possible once the treaty is signed.

The free-trade initiative also involves Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Canada and Vietnam.