Trans-Pacific Partnership to go ahead without US

Trudeau Vietnam 20171109

Trade ministers of 11 Pacific Rim countries say they agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership that the U.S. abandoned in January under Trump.

"We reconfirmed that there was nothing wrong with what we agreed to Thursday, including even the most minor language", Toshimitsu Motegi said after ministers from the so-called TPP 11 reconvened Friday night for talks.

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.

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.

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

The original agreement - the so-called TPP12 - is being renegotiated now after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew America in January.

The CPTPP has revised the original TPP text so that it can come into force 60 days after at least six signatories complete domestic procedures.

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

Commenting on the CPTPP, Doctor Tran Toan Thang, of the National Centre for Information and Forecasting, MPI, told the Viet Nam News:"At last we have an agreement about the future of most debated FTA".

Earlier, a last-minute objection by Canada had complicated the process.

"Having lost a bit of a momentum on the back of the decision by the Canadians not to attend the leaders meeting on the TPP 11, we'll have to keep working methodically through it", he told ABC TV on Sunday.

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.

"All the other leaders are already in the stage where their leaders can confirm the ministerial-level agreement", he said.

At an unexpected press conference held late on Saturday, Trudeau said more work needs to be done to reach a final agreement on a revised Pacific Rim trade pact. It would go beyond traditional deals by including issues like intellectual property, state-owned enterprises and labor rights.

Meeting on the sidelines of the Apec summit in Vietnam, the remaining 11 Pacific rim nations released a joint statement over the weekend saying they were committed to free and open trade.

Canada, whose economy is the second biggest among the TPP-11 after Japan, said on Wednesday it would not be rushed into a revived TPP deal.

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