Vietnam ratifies 11-country deal that will drastically cut tariffs

South-East Asian nation the seventh country to have passed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership

TOPSHOT - This aerial photo taken on October 19, 2018 shows houses along the Xuyen Tam canal in Ho Chi Minh City. There are about 20,000 remaining households on Ho Chi Minh City's serpentine waterways slated to be demolished by 2020 as part of the city's massive renewal project that promises to replace some of the polluted canal banks with Parisian-style riverside promenades, paved roads, modern shops and buildings.  / AFP / Kao NGUYEN
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Vietnam's lawmaking body, the National Assembly, on Monday unanimously ratified a landmark 11-country deal that will slash tariffs across much of the Asia-Pacific.

One of the region's fastest-growing economies, its status cemented by strong exports and robust foreign investment, the South East Asian nation is believed to be among the largest beneficiaries of the trade deal.

The ratification makes Vietnam the seventh country to have passed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the National Assembly said.

"It is not just a trade agreement, but it also requires breakthroughs in law making and enforcement, in government management and social governance," the government said, adding that the deal spells great opportunities for Vietnam.

Vietnam has already signed around a dozen free trade pacts to scrap, or cut, taxes on several imports and exports.

Taxes on nearly 43 per cent of Vietnam's apparel exports to Canada will be removed immediately after the agreement takes effect, and 100 per cent after four years, the government said.

The garment sector is Vietnam's second-largest export-earner after smartphones.


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Exports of footwear products and seafood will also benefit.

The pact, which includes specific requirements on labour rights and conditions of work, is also expected to help Vietnam advance in labour reforms, the International Labour Organisation said.

"This is really an opportunity for Vietnam to modernise its labour laws and industrial relations system, and the need for such reforms firstly comes from the country's internal context," said the agency's Vietnam director, Chang-Hee Lee.

Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore had earlier formally ratified CPTPP, which takes effect at year-end.

The original 12-member deal was thrown into limbo early last year when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement to prioritise protecting US jobs.

Brunei, Chile, Malaysia and Peru are the four remaining members yet to ratify the pact.