(From AFP)

The biggest trade deal in history was signed in Auckland, New Zealand Thursday, yoking 12 Pacific rim countries in a US-led initiative aimed at wresting influence from booming China.

TPP signing ceremony in Auckland
TPP signing ceremony in Auckland

The ambitious Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) aims to slash tariffs and trade barriers for an enormous 40 percent of the global economy — but pointedly does not include Beijing.

“TPP allows America — and not countries like China — to write the rules of the road in the 21st century,” US President Barack Obama said after the pact was signed in New Zealand.

The deal — whose birth was fraught by domestic opposition in the US and in other key players, such as Japan — is a key plank of Obama’s so-called “pivot” to Asia, as he seeks to counter the rising power of China.

Along with a rebalancing of the US military machine towards the western Pacific, the TPP is recognition of the growing might of China, which has come to dominate the region, threatening American influence.

Supporters of the deal say harnessing the power of free trade in such a dynamic part of the world is vital if the US is to fend off China’s challenge to its supremacy. Read more

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