Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
World | By Melba Underwood

TPP countries agree to move ahead with trade pact without US

TPP countries agree to move ahead with trade pact without US

Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Friday that countries including Canada had now agreed on a plan to move ahead with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, but Canadian officials did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The Vietnamese trade minister says 11 Pacific Rim countries have reached a "fundamental agreement" on continuing with a free trade pact after the USA abandoned it.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skipped the leaders' meeting called to thrash out the deal.

Efforts to reach an agreement this weekend on a Pacific Rim trade pact appeared to collapse Friday when persistent concerns over the deal, including Canada's, forced the abrupt cancellation of a scheduled leaders' meeting. "The 11 countries led by Japan, we are trying to come up with our new version", Najib said.

The 11 ministers "have agreed on every word and expression used in the ministerial statement" to be released Saturday, Motegi said.

Mr Trudeau is yet to explain why he got "cold feet", with some suspicion that upcoming elections in industrial Quebec may have contributed to his last minute hesitation to support the TPP.

Trump said he would not enter into large trade agreements, alluding to US involvement in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP.

One of Mr Trump's first official acts after inauguration was to formally withdraw from negotiations on the partnership, citing it as an example of "trade deals that put the interests of insiders and the Washington elite over the hard-working men and women of this country".

Talks between trade and foreign ministers from the group failed to reach agreement on their usual joint statement in the face of USA demands to remove language about supporting free trade and fighting protectionism.

New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker said the nation's had returned to a position where the text of the deal was "stabilised".

More news: George Takei denies 1981 sexual assault claim

"It can be said that the outcome of the meeting in Da Nang has demonstrated great efforts made by the 11 TPP countries to spur economic development, generate jobs, improve people's living standards, facilitate trade development, enhance regional economic ties and integrate into the world", said Anh.

But negotiators from all countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including Canada, held further talks on Friday night.

Some 20 provisions of the original agreement were suspended.

However, Trudeau said days earlier that Canada would not be rushed into an agreement.

At the start of the meeting, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang noted Apec's success in removing barriers to trade - as well as the new uncertainty in the world.

But Trudeau said there is still much "important work to be done", namely on the creation of a gender rights chapter, changes around rules of origin - a part of the deal with particular salience to the auto parts sector - and issues surrounding Canada's protection and promotion of culture.

The TPP member countries are trying to find a way forward without the USA, the biggest economy and, before Trump took office, one of its most assertive supporters.

As an institution, apart from its pageantry and its tradition of drawing leaders together for face-to-face meetings, APEC mainly serves as a laboratory for trying out policies and encouraging "best practices", said Alan Bollard, executive director for APEC's secretariat. They're all attending the APEC Leaders Retreat in the afternoon.

"The reality is that showing we are in the process of diversifying our economic interests helps us in the NAFTA negotiations", he said.

Like this: