The 18th round of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is taking place in Malaysia from July 15–25 with high hopes that the agreement could be signed in June next year.

TPP countries, whose total combined population is about 1 billion, will soon make up around 40 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product ( GDP ), or 29 trillion USD. Their agricultural exports and imports will account for 30 percent and 20 percent of the global figures, respectively.

Almost all TPP members, including Japan - the latest nation pledging to join, are wealthy countries. Peru and Vietnam are the two poorest nations in the bloc. So far, questions have been raised about what Vietnam is set to gain and lose when the agreement is signed.

Participants attending a seminar on the subject in Ho Chi Minh City on July 10 said that Vietnam will benefit from its position as a TPP member. They argued that the country’s main export staples - garment and textiles, footwear and agricultural products, will enjoy zero percent tariff when the TPP is in place, instead of the current level of 17-30 percent. They added that the flow of FDI to Vietnam will be more plentiful and the country will develop more advanced technologies, helping businesses become more competitive.

Quoting research conducted by Professor Peter Petri from Brandeis University in the US , Herb Cochran from the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Vietnam said that the country’s export turnover will reach around 307 billion USD by 2025 if the country is a TPP member. He said that in contrast the figure will be just 239 billion USD if it does not join – a reduction of 68 billion USD. He said that garment and textiles and footwear exports would see the highest growth of around 45.9 percent. Seafood products will also become much more competitive in the US market thanks to a zero percent tax (compared with the current 28 percent tariff).

However, some participants expressed their worries that Vietnamese businesses may not make full use of the TPP as they cannot meet some criteria related to behaviour between nations and the origin of goods. In order to overcome the challenge, they said businesses must carefully study and understand the agreement.-VNA