Trans Pacific Partnership deal back on track

13 November, 2017, 00:26 | Author: Ora Austin
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has touched down in Vietnam

Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said late on Friday that all 11 countries had now agreed on the plan to move ahead.

Instead they found Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, holding crisis meetings with Canada's Justin Trudeau over an undisclosed issue.

Japan has lobbied hard in recent days on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang to reach a ministerial agreement on "core elements" of a new trade pact to be implemented without Washington, as differences among the 11 remaining members have proved surmountable.

"Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans Pacific Partnership", the statement reads.

According to a statement issued by the Minister of International Trade and Industry on Saturday, the 11 members of the partnership have agreed on the text of the CPTPP agreement but a number of issues remain to be finalised before the signing of the deal. After some disagreements between the two during the tête-à-tête, Abe told the other waiting leaders that the meeting was off, and Trudeau went on to meet with Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg.

While the U.S. championed the TPP under former President Barack Obama, Trump said such deals are unfair to his country.

The move prompted worldwide headlines because foreign media reports had predicted TPP partners would reach an agreement when they gathered for the APEC event in Danang.

Trudeau said Canada will always be "extremely closely linked to the American economy" but there was a need to diversify trade through other deals.

Moving ahead with TPP would be a boost for the principle of multilateral trade agreements after U.S. President Donald Trump ditched it this year in favor of an "America First" policy that he reiterated at an Asia-Pacific summit in Vietnam.

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But we also strongly assert that Canada should never have gotten to this point, and should now withdraw from the TPP-11 talks once and for all. It is now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Partly to counter China's growing dominance in Asia, Japan had been lobbying hard for the TPP pact, which aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products across the 11-nation bloc whose trade totalled $356 billion previous year.

Trade ministers reconvened overnight while APEC leaders attended the traditional leaders' banquet, where Ardern said she exchanged pleasantries with Trump, including a "standard" handshake, a reference to the president's penchant for extended gripping with counterparts. "I am quite sanguine that we will get a deal but of course it has got to go through the process of ratification", he said.

A report in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald said Trudeau "sabotaged" the talks at the last minute by failing to show up for the meeting.

Earlier this week, Trudeau said wasn't going to be pressured into committing to an agreement "at all costs" and that it would have to address the best interests of Canadians. China is not part of the TPP.

At this stage there's no meeting of all 11 leaders planned for Saturday.

In their retreat, leaders were expected to discuss broader regional concerns such as North Korea's nuclear program and missile tests.

"We have witnessed changes more rapid and complex than we expect", he said in opening remarks.

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