Australia and Peru negotiating terms of an ambitious free trade agreement

The development marks the first signs of trade deal in the Pacific region following the U.S. withdrawal from the TPP.

Peru expects to sign a “very ambitious” free trade deal with Australia which is likely to cover goods, investments, and services, said Peru’s deputy trade minister.

Following the ending of the first round of negotiations, the two countries have resumed free trade talks on Monday in which “a lot of progress was made,” said Edgar Vasquez, Peru’s Deputy Trade Minister.

“This is going to be an agreement that we should be able to implement as soon as possible, starting in 2018,” said Vasquez. “That’s what we’d like to happen and what we think is viable.”

Trade between the two nations, are relatively small, with both nations being global producers of minerals.

With U.S. President Donald Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, Australia and Peru are taking steps towards signing a free trade deal, in what has been described as the first steps toward reducing trade barriers in the Pacific region.

The 11 countries, which include Japan, Canada and Mexico, have a combined gross domestic product of $12.4 trillion.

As per Vasquez, the experience of negotiating the TPP had put Peru and Australia on solid footing for quickly hashing out a bilateral agreement.

“We also both have very open economies, so we’re really going to see a broad inclusion of sectors that will benefit from it – goods as well as services and investments,” said Vasquez.

Last month, Peru’s trade ministry had stated that the rules of origin, e-commerce and migration were also on the negotiation table, with Peru being eager to boost its agricultural exports, while Australia was focused on spurring trade of mining and other professional services.

Australian trade officials were not immediately available for comment.

According to Peru’s trade ministry, the country’s exports to Australia was $260 million in 2016.

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