Japan PM Abe Says Welcomes Broad Agreement on TPP Trade Deal

Marsha Scott
November 13, 2017

Countries in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) have agreed on steps to move ahead with the trade deal despite resistance from Canada at talks in Vietnam that had put new doubts over its survival, officials said.

While the TPP-11 accord was not endorsed by the top leadership of the countries as expected, the ministers said the new name reflects a focus on inclusive growth, the ministers said after a two-day meeting in the central city of Da Nang.

Talks fell into disarray on Friday when Japan's President Shinzo Abe canceled a meeting of leaders from the TPP countries after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not arrive there.

Trade ministers say they have reached a basic agreement on a Pacific Rim trade pact without the United States.

Speaking to reporters on TPP, Trudeau said "still more important work to be done to ensure we reach the best deal for Canada and Canadian people".

But the chances of bringing Washington back to the pact, originally signed by all 12 countries in February 2016, look slim given U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" mantra, which is leading him on a quest for bilateral deals with countries running large trade surpluses with the United States.

"Clearly we were expecting to have 11 nations represented around the table but one didn't show up so we were disappointed", he said.

"I'm very confident. And I know my counterparts in the 10 other countries, we all feel that we can accommodate the various questions that are outstanding".

Canada's position has been further complicated by the fact that it is simultaneously renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the Trump administration.

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"The primary reason is that Canada is in a hard situation trying to balance the interests of the TPP, which has Mexico as a party, but also keep alive the North American Free Trade Agreement", Professor Rothwell said. It is now the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products across a bloc whose trade totaled $356 billion a year ago.

Indeed, since his arrival in Vietnam, Trudeau has said he wouldn't cave to "pressure" from others, telegraphing that Canada did not have its pen in hand heading into Danang, the site of the APEC conference...

It said a "limited set of provisions" from the original deal would be suspended.

"The scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Abe ... went long, we obviously had a lot to talk about, and at the end of the meeting it became clear it was in everyone's interest to postpone the meeting on TPP11", Trudeau said as an explanation.

The TPP member countries are trying to find a way forward without the US, the biggest economy and, before Trump took office, one of its most assertive supporters. Chinese President Xi Jinping drew loud applause during a speech to the same group when he urged support for the "multilateral trading regime" and progress toward a free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific.

Zhang said the Beijing-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact will not be impacted by TPP, to which China is not party.

The Apec leaders met in closed sessions on Saturday, pausing for the traditional "family photograph", taken above the South China Sea.

Trump reiterated his markedly different stance on trade before the 21-member APEC summit convened late Friday with a gala banquet.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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