Published: Mon, November 13, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

TPP trade deal advances without US

TPP trade deal advances without US

Revisions of the deal to allow the remaining 11 countries to proceed without US involvement involved a hard balance between maintaining high standards and pragmatism, Japanese economy minister Toshimitsu Motegi said after late-night talks culminated in a preliminary agreement.

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

She met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the gala dinner on Friday night but she said the pair didn't discuss the deal.

"After two days of the TPP ministerial-level meeting in Da Nang, we all agreed on the deal's new name and not to make amendments to the original texts but freeze the implementation of some clauses to ensure balance and the quality of the document in the new context", said Minister Tuan Anh. Francois-Philippe Champagne, minister of global trade, said in a statement Ottawa "will not be rushed into an agreement that is not in the interest of Canada".

Late on Thursday, Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters that a basic deal was achieved, but this was quickly disputed by Canada's representative Francois-Philippe Champagne. The compromise was delayed by last-minute disagreements that prevented the TPP leaders from meeting to endorse a plan on Friday.

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.

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

"The TPP is only marginally about trade", says Larry Brown.

Facing Canadian domestic political pressures similar to those faced by the New Zealand Labour-led government from the left of its support base, it appears Canada has pushed for the inclusion of the "comprehensive, progressive" wording to stress this is not an "old-style" agreement focused only on trade.

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However, Japan and the APEC host, Viet Nam are now expected to issue a statement at 11 am local time giving an update on the renamed Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) in which just four outstanding areas of contention remain.

The TPP countries agreed Friday to suspend controversial provisions from the original TPP deal related to intellectual property.

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

APEC, whose leaders hold their full summit on Saturday, has itself been buffeted by the changes under Trump.

"We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore", he told an APEC business conference.

Later, leaders of the 21 Apec economies agreed to address "unfair trade practices" and called for the removal of "market distorting subsidies", in contrast to communiques they have issued in the past.

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

"We're in an easier place to try things out, to test policy sensitivities even if we don't get everybody around the table", Bollard said.

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