Faint corporate praise for TPP as winners, losers sought

Tue Oct 6, 2015 6:09pm EDT
 
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By Jane Wardell and Krista Hughes

SYDNEY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Early industry reaction to a long-sought trade agreement reached between 12 Pacific Rim countries on Monday amounted to faint praise that it could have been worse and umbrage that the United States appeared to be the biggest winner.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) aims to liberalize commerce across nations accounting for 40 percent of the world's economy but still needs ratification by each country.

Initial ambitions for the deal, covering products and services from kiwifruit to semiconductors, were clipped back in many areas to find agreement. There was also concern that public summaries did not disclose the detail where the devils might lurk - making it hard to quickly pick winners and losers.

U.S. companies including Citibank Inc (C.N: Quote), Honeywell International Inc (HON.N: Quote) and Gap Inc (GPS.N: Quote) cheered the conclusion of a deal which is expected to bring the biggest comparative benefits Vietnam, where shares in seafood and textile companies rose after the news was announced.

New Zealand's Fonterra Co-Operative Group Ltd FCG.NZ, the world's biggest dairy exporter, said "entrenched" U.S. protectionism meant the deal fell far short of its original ambition to eliminate all tariffs, but was still "small but significant" step forward.

The politically influential Dairy Farmers of Canada highlighted financial losses, albeit mitigated by a "fair compensation package," after Canada agreed to open 3.3 percent of its dairy market to imports.

Beef, sugar, rice, seafood and horticulture companies in Australia and New Zealand welcomed the increased access to Japanese markets thanks to tariff reductions under the deal.

"We should focus on the gains made in this agreement for Australian sugar, and not the success of the powerful U.S. sugar lobby in maintaining their protectionist stance against bringing sugar into their deficit market," said Dominic Nolan, chief executive officer of the Australian Sugar Milling Council.   Continued...

 
Trade ministers from a dozen Pacific nations in Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministers meeting post in TPP Ministers "Family Photo" in Atlanta, Georgia October 1, 2015.  REUTERS/USTR Press Office/Handout