The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal has been struck between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim economies, marking the largest trade deal signed in two decades.

The trade deal must still pass through Congress debates, but if agreed to, the accord will remove import trade tariffs, tie East-Asian economies to global labour laws, protect corporate intellectual property and deal with environmental and trafficking abuses in participating nations.

Spanning about two-fifths of the global economy, the hard-won agreement -- which took five years to negotiate -- aims to set the rules for 21st century trade and investment in the Pacific region.

China notably is not party to the negotiations and has embarked on plans to set up a rival agreement.

Under the deal, 98 percent of tariffs will be eliminated on everything from beef, dairy, wine, sugar, rice, horticulture and seafood, through to manufactured products, resources and energy.

Within the fruit export sector there seems to be mixed feelings and a note of caution. There are also a lot of exporters who have no idea of what this deal will mean for them.

For example the agreement does not guarantee market access for fruit and vegetables and then the country to country protocols still have to be agreed.

Oceania

Jeff Scott, CEO of Australian Table Grape Association, said it is good to have such a deal, but unless the market access and protocols are in place it makes no difference to Australian grape exporters. He would also have liked to see Korea included in the agreement.

Phil Pyke, Business Development Manager, Fruit Growers Tasmania, said that, "The devil will be in the detail, reduced tariffs are welcome but it won't give automatic access and we will have to see what will come in from these countries. There is still along way to go, the TPP won't be in full operation for a few years and there will need to be a lot of enabling legislation brought."

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. (NZKGI) and Zespri also welcomed the signing of the agreement – another big win for kiwifruit growers following the recent tariff elimination agreement with Korea.

Once fully implemented, the TPP Agreement will result in the elimination of annual export tariffs equalling around $26 million for New Zealand fruit and vegetable growers.

NZKGI President, Neil Trebilco says the most significant result in the agreement for kiwifruit growers is the elimination of tariffs into Japan.

“Japan is the largest market for New Zealand kiwifruit and growers can expect to see significant savings of around $15 million per year from eliminating the six percent tariff.

“If this tariff relief was passed straight through to New Zealand growers, it would equate to savings of over $1000 for every hectare of kiwifruit grown in New Zealand." explained Zespri Chief Executive Lain Jager. "This tariff elimination will also benefit Japanese consumers by supporting our competitiveness against other fruit in Japan.”

Japan
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hailed the TPP as the start of a "new century" for Asia, and expressed hope that China might one day join the historic accord.

"A huge economic zone will emerge... the TPP will make our lives more prosperous," Abe said. "It's the opening of a new century for the Asia-Pacific region," he said, adding that the deal would "fundamentally strengthen rule of law in economic activities by establishing a free, fair and open international economic system".

Japanese fresh produce companies said that there will be no huge effect for the fresh industry instead, the automotive sector will benefit more.

Latin America
Mexican Secretariat of Economy, said the deal is extremely important. The TPP will be a negotiation model for future trade agreements. The agreement is important for Mexico because it opens up new business opportunities for the Mexican productive sector in six markets in Asia-Pacific, the region will register the highest economic growth in the next 25 years.

Foreign minister of Chile Heraldo Munoz: "We have protected all sensitive areas and are achieving far greater access to markets that we have in the free trade agreements with the other eleven partners of this agreement. He referred to the improved access for products, the linkage with value chains and open areas such as government procurement and services not covered by previous treaties with 11 other partners.

Chamber of Commerce of Lima (CCL) (Peru) said the agreement consolidates the progress of the Andean nation in its openness to foreign trade and that this "provides an opportunity for Peruvian producers to reach new markets and contributes to the consolidation of progress to create jobs and reduce poverty.

The TPP will benefit small and medium enterprises (SMEs) because "it will promote their participation in trade flows that will be generated," said for his part the manager of Foreign Trade of the National Society of Industries (SNI) of Peru, Silvia Hooker.

United States
United Fresh Produce Association said the agreement is critical in gaining market access and lifting trade barriers that have blocked U.S. fruits and vegetables in the past.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said: "The agreement would eliminate or significantly reduce tariffs on our products and deter non-science based sanitary and phytosanitary barriers that have put American agriculture at a disadvantage in TPP countries in the past. Despite these past barriers, countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently account for up to 42 percent of all U.S. agricultural exports, totalling $63 billion. Thanks to this agreement American agricultural exports to the region will expand even further and will contribute to the future strength of American agriculture."

Canada
From the start, Canada’s strategy was more about protecting what it has than conquering new markets. The outcome is a tricky balance of preserving the benefits Canada now enjoys in the U.S. and Mexican markets through the North American free-trade agreement, while exposing itself to more foreign competition.

In the end, Ottawa was forced to make key concessions in two main areas that were better protected in NAFTA – agriculture and autos. However the CEO of The Vancouver Board of Trade, Iain Black, mentioned: “The TPP will further strengthen B.C.’s role in the global economy by reducing regulatory barriers on B.C. exports such as wood and forestry products, metals and minerals, and B.C. fruit and seafood.”

Asia
Most Malaysian and Vietnamese fruit and vegetables exporters were not yet ready to comment on the deal as it was too early to say anything and said even the government is not really talking about this.