TPP countries agree to move ahead with trade pact without US

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has touched down in Vietnam ahead of a TPP ministers meeting

POOL Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has touched down in Vietnam ahead of a TPP ministers meeting

Following Canada's unexpected last-minute objection, another round of ministerial meetings was held late Friday to reconfirm "the agreement in principle" on the TPP among ministers from the 11 countries including Canada, Motegi said.

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 from 11 Pacific Rim countries have reached an agreement on the "core elements" of the TPP trade pact, even with the USA staying out of the deal.

Before Trudeau's no-show at the leaders' meeting, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand had made good progress on contentious investor-state disputes resolution clauses and preserving market access.

Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker said that on Thursday night it had appeared all Canada's issues had been resolved to its satisfaction.

"However, prominent anti-TPP campaigner, Jane Kelsey from The University of Auckland law school, said in a statement based on a leaked text of today's progress statement that she was "'disappointed, but not surprised" that the Labour government had largely endorsed the TPP agreement signed up to by the previous National Party-led government "with the suspension of a limited range of items".

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

When US abandoned the TPP it was widely expected that the deal would collapse.

The talks were a corollary to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit underway in Vietnam.

"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.

A key topic of discussion, as they sank into the yellow cushions on their chairs, focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks.

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 an11-nation bloc whose trade totalled $356 billion a year ago.

As regular readers will know, MB's biggest concerns around the original TPP were that it would have extended patent and copyright protections, as well as instituted an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision, which would have opened the door to multinational companies suing the Australian Government for implementing rules against their interests (e.g. on environmental, health and safety grounds).

"We weren't ready to close it yesterday", Trudeau told reporters at the closing news conference for the APEC summit in Vietnam. It cut into the planned TPP leaders' meeting and kept the other leaders waiting for them in the room.

A Canadian official said: "We've agreed to a framework towards the deal, with work programmes to deal with issues".

"The reality is that showing we are in the process of diversifying our economic interests helps us in the NAFTA negotiations", he said.

China's President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, used the same forum to stress multilateralism and said that globalization is an irreversible trend. The release of a set of ministerial agreements early Saturday suggested the leaders would finesse any disagreements, as usual, to demonstrate unity and avoid embarrassing their hosts.

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