Colombia is the latest country to seek admission to the trans-Pacific trade pact, the CPTPP, which US President Donald Trump tried to kill off.
Trade Minister David Parker announced today that Colombia had notified the New Zealand-based secretariat for the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership of its desire to become a member, along with adjoining Pacific rim countries Peru and Chile. Mexico, to the north is also a member, as are Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, and Viet Nam.
The US had sponsored the pact under previous president Barack Obama but one of Trump's first acts after inauguration was to repudiate the deal.
Japan led efforts to revive the pact, and after a false start at the APEC Leaders Summit in Da Nang last November, saw negotiations to a conclusion in January.
Two-way trade in goods with oil-endowed Colombia is limited at present to roughly equal flows totalling $45 million, but the Spanish-speaking country of some 50 million people has been identified as a source of international students, has grown strongly in recent years and is fast shrugging off its previous reputation for ruthless criminal drug cartels in favour of becoming a tourist hotspot.
Parker announced the Colombian request in the context of the 2018 Nikkei International Future of Asia Forum in Japan, this weekend, where Parker says he will advocate "the importance of defending and promoting a trading system based on rules, and the importance of regional agreements like CPTPP being open to those willing to join'".
“Colombia is the first to formally notify New Zealand, as depositary, of its interest in joining once CPTPP enters into force."