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Cashing In On the TPP

By Benjamin Shepherd on October 8, 2015

The largest trade pack in modern history is a go.

Negotiators from 12 Pacific Rim countries, including the U.S., announced earlier this week that they have reached a final agreement on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The deal, which covers the trade between countries that account for roughly 40% of the global economy, will lower trade barriers and set rules governing more than $1 trillion of goods and services.

Now, everything from milk to auto parts will move more easily around the countries bordering the Pacific Ocean.

While the deal won’t necessarily translate into huge gains for our portfolio holdings, particularly since Congress still has to ratify it and that won’t likely happen before April, there will be benefits.

For instance, Mexican poultry producer Industrias Bachoco S.A.B de C.V. does a booming business in its home country and the U.S., with revenue nearly doubling over the past five years and earnings shooting up from $2.12 to $5.18.

 The company’s operations are still relatively modest compared to the Tyson Foods of the world, which has more than three times the market capitalization of Industrias Bachoco, so shipping its chickens beyond the U.S. and Mexico would be a challenge.

But the TPP will implement a single set of rules across the Pacific region that will replace a regulatory maze of food safety rules. As a result, Industrias Bachoco (NYSE: IBA) can soon more easily reach nearly 500 million new customers across Asia.

The benefits accrue in both directions though, so Singapore-based Wilmar International could see North American vistas opening to it. A top producer of palm oil, sugar, flour and other agricultural products, Wilmar’s (OTC: WLMIY) business is largely confined to Southeast Asia, China, Europe and Africa.

While its products are more in demand in those regions, palm oil is a relatively common ingredient in food production and used in more than half of all packaged products we Americans consumer.  The palm trees that produce the oil are only grown in the tropics, so most of the oil we consume is produced by domestic companies.

But now that the TPP will be leveling the agricultural field, Wilmar can compete in the North American market more easily. And the timing really couldn’t be better since earlier this year the U.S. Food and Drug administration ordered food manufacturers to stop using artificial trans fats within three years, much of which will likely be replaced with palm oil.

Companies with a lot of intellectual property, otherwise known as patents, will also get a boost from the TPP. For instance, Trend Micro (OTC: TMICY) and Nintendo (OTC: NTDOY), an Internet security company and maker of the ubiquitous gaming systems respectively, both hold a host of patents.

When those patents are ripped off by pirates and counterfeiters, it costs companies both in terms of lost sales and the money spent chasing the rip-off artists down. While no trade agreement will ever keep piracy from happening, the TPP makes it easier to prosecute the pirates and requires signatories to the treaty to enforce patent rules.

Again, more stringent patent enforcement isn’t going to add hundreds of millions of dollars to anyone’s cash flow, but the TPP will eventually provide a marginal boost to the bottom lines of patent-rich companies.

The deal won’t just benefit individual companies, though. For instance, Vietnam has a booming apparel industry which will see tariffs and other trade restrictions virtually evaporate in the new trading block. As a result, that will add an additional $36 billion to Vietnam’s economy by 2025, an 11% boost to the economic growth that could be expected without the TPP as the country’s exports should grow by at least 28%.

That will have the knock-on effect of boost incomes across Vietnam, which in turn will drive higher consumption, which will drive more growth. So Vietnam as a whole just become a lot more attractive, making funds like Market Vectors Vietnam ETF (NYSE: VNM) a much better investment bet.

Thanks to the TPP, there’s a new world of investment opportunity out there.


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