Winners and losers in the world's biggest trade deal

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The countdown to the giant Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has begun, with a July 31 deadline looming on the trade agreement that covers 12 countries and 40 percent of the global economy.

Trade representatives kicked off talks in Hawaii on Tuesday and will work towards a—hopefully—successful conclusion at the end of this week. The deal has been five years in the making but contrary to previous talks, optimism is high for an agreement this time around.

"Sentiment is very positive. I've spoken to negotiators from the U.S. and four other countries and people are excited, they really see the end in sight," Tami Overby, senior vice-president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), told CNBC on Tuesday.

CNBC takes a look at the likely TPP winners and losers:


"The biggest winner will be Vietnam as foreign investors start to flood the country. Number two might be Malaysia and number three is Japan," Deborah Elms, executive director at Asia Trade Centre, told CNBC on Tuesday.

The Peterson Institute of International Economics (PIIE) echoed Elms in a recent report, citing tariff-free access to U.S. markets for apparel and footwear, Vietnam's top exports, compared to the current 17-32 percent tax range.

That's expected to boost exports to the U.S—already Vietnam's largest export market—and dramatically increase foreign direct investment inflows in a country with the lowest per capita income among TPP members.

PIIE also notes that Vietnam would see the largest percentage income gains and export increases out of all countries at 13.6 percent and 31.7 percent, respectively.

Malaysia does not yet have bilateral free-trade agreements (FTAs) in place with the U.S., Canada or Mexico, so it should be another key beneficiary of a TPP agreement.

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"The TPP deal would provide Malaysian exporters with enhanced access to the entire North American market, and would also improve Malaysia's attractiveness as a hub for North American investment inflows," Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific chief economist at IHS, said in Tuesday note.

For Japan, the opening of services markets is a major advantage, explained Elms of Asia Trade Centre. A TPP deal would open the services markets of each member nation to one another, and because Japan's services sector is relatively uncompetitive, it has a lot of room to grow, she said.

"That means all kinds of services markets that have been problematic for foreign investors to penetrate should be open, including logistics, distribution and warehousing, as well as travel, tourism, and food and beverage."

Moreover, the combined impact of the TPP and a potential FTA with the European Union could substantially lift Japan's long-term growth rate, according to Biswas.


Non-TPP members are expected to bear the brunt of losses due to the impact of trade diversion, where countries prefer to export to their FTA partners rather than non-participating countries.

"The trade diversion effect of the TPP fall mainly on China," PIEE said, adding that exports would be 1.2 percent lower in the case of a deal compared to without.

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As Vietnam benefits from increased market access to the U.S., other Asian exporters of textiles and clothing may hurt.

"Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are also expected to suffer negative impact effects from trade and investment diversion in the textiles and clothing industry towards TPP members, notably Vietnam," Biswas added.

India is also expected to suffer as Vietnam gains. "While New Delhi has a relatively well-diversified export sector, textiles and clothing industry still accounted for 13 percent of total merchandise exports in the 2014-15 financial year," Biswas continued.

However, the European Union isn't expected to be impacted greatly: It already boasts a number of FTAs with Asian economies and is currently negotiating one with the United States, PIIE said.

Why it's now or never

Previous TPP talks have been repeatedly stalled by sticky issues including generic drugs, agricultural subsidies and dairy exports, but experts say it's now or never for negotiators.

"This deadline is truly a real deadline [compared to previous ones] because the window is essentially shut," Elms said. "If no agreement is signed by this weekend, countries will have to wait until after the next U.S. presidential election in 2017. By then, who knows what will have happened? I would not like the odds of success then. It's make-or-break now."

However, there's always the possibility of negotiators inking an in-principle deal and then working out the details later, Overby added.

Indeed, recent history indicates that there's nothing like the threat of the 11th hour to motivate politicians.

It took Greece and its European creditors six months to finally agree on a bailout deal, which coincided with the peak of Athens' financial desperation amid capital controls and a missed International Monetary Fund payment. Meanwhile, Tehran and the group known as the PS5+1 went back-and-forth for 18 months before finally joining hands earlier this month.