August 29, 2017 / 1:03 AM / in 3 months

Peru sees 'ambitious' trade deal with Australia as early as 2018

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru expects a “very ambitious” free trade deal with Australia that covers goods, services and investments to be implemented as early as next year, Peru’s deputy trade minister said on Monday.

The two countries resumed free trade talks in Australia on Monday following a first round of negotiations in July in which “a lot of progress was made,” said Deputy Trade Minister Edgar Vasquez.

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

Peru and Australia are important global producers of minerals and their bilateral trade is relatively small.

Forging a free trade deal so quickly would mark one of the first steps toward reducing trade barriers in the Pacific region after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which Australia and Peru had signed onto.

The remaining signatories to the TPP are in Australia this week discussing ways to salvage the deal. The 11 countries, which include Japan, Canada and Mexico, have a combined gross domestic product of $12.4 trillion.

Vasquez said 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,” Vasquez said.

Peru’s trade ministry said last month that rules of origin, migration and e-commerce were also under discussion and that Peru was eager to increase agricultural exports to Australia while spurring trade of mining and other professional services.

Australian trade officials were not immediately available for comment.

Peru’s exports to Australia amounted to $260 million last year, according to Peru’s trade ministry.

Reporting By Mitra Taj in Lima Additional Reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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