Pacific ministers have reached a deal on the biggest trade liberalization pact in a generation. News agencies reported the accord would set standards for 12 nations and reduce tariffs for a wide range of products.
Trade officials said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) would affect 40 percent of the world economy and had the potential to reshape industries.
Should national lawmakers approve the deal reached Monday, it would influence everything from the price of cheese to the cost of cancer treatment in the nations concerned.
The TPP accord had been controversial because of the secret negotiations that had shaped it over the past five years and the perceived threat to an array of interest groups from Mexican carmakers to Canadian dairy farmers.
Stumbling stone removed
The complex deal is to bring about tariff reduction schedules for hundreds of imported items from pork and beef in Japan to pickup trucks in the US.
However, one issue had threatened to derail the talks until the very end, notably the length of monopolies to be awarded to the developers of new biological drugs.
The US had sought 12 years of protection to encourage pharmaceutical companies to invest in expensive treatments, while Australia, New Zealand and others would have preferred a five-year period of protection.
Negotiators were reported to have agreed on a compromise on minimum terms that was short of US expectations.
hg/cjc (AFP, Reuters)