SOME member states of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have agreed to try and continue with the deal, after US President Donald Trump pulled out in January soon after taking office.
Meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam on Sunday morning, 11 remaining nations agreed that they would explore ways to continue with TPP without the United States. It falls short of an immediate commitment to push on with the deal.
“The countries are going to put forward proposals on how to take TPP forward in November,” said New Zealand trade minister Todd McClay on Sunday, as quoted by Reuters.
As part of his “America First” approach, Trump pulled out of TPP soon after his inauguration calling it a “job killer.” The agreement aimed to significantly reduce barriers to trade and establish an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.
TPP had been Barack Obama’s signature trade deal and a keystone aspect of his “pivot” to Asia.
Japan and New Zealand, the only countries to have ratified the deal, have spearheaded efforts to pursue the deal despite US exit, seeking not to undo seven years of hard fought negotiations.
“TPP has not only economic benefits but also strategic significance. We will firmly seek its realisation,” said Japan’s minister responsible for the TPP Nobuteru Ishihara on Friday.
Prior to Trump’s decision, the agreement represented 40 percent of the global economy. Under the TPP’s original terms, it could not come into place unless ratified by six countries accounting for 85 percent of the group’s combined GDP.
Malaysia and Vietnam had set to benefit hugely from greater access to US markets but have signalled their desire to renegotiate the TPP after Trump’s withdrawal. Original signatories also included Singapore, Mexico, Australia, Chile and Canada.
“Without America, there is no TPPA. We need the nation that contributes to 85 per cent of the TPPA to make it happen,” said Malaysia’s trade minister Mustapa Mohamed last November.
“We think the agreement is well balanced,” said McClay. “We are willing to engage in conversation to better understand the positions of Malaysia and Vietnam and other countries.”
“That will take some time. It will take most of this year,” he said.