Remaining 11 countries to take forward the TPP

The meeting in Hanoi was the biggest global trade gathering since US President Donald Trump upended the old order, arguing that multilateral free-trade agreements were costing American jobs and withdrawing from the TPP.

While, Robert Lighthizer, new Trade Representative of US, will be communicating with main countries and on the other hand, China is pushing the Asian trade agreement, while putting itself first as a global free trade chief.

But officials said there remained significant points of disagreement in the talks between Southeast Asian countries, China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.

The 11 remaining members, all Apec countries, agreed yesterday to pursue it without the United States.

The bid to revive the TPP, which would have covered 40% of the global economy, was led by trade ministers from Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

"The Chinese would not be particularly pleased to see the TPP go ahead even without the United States", said Capri, a senior fellow and professor at the National University of Singapore.

"We're focused on how we can move ahead with 11 countries", New Zealand's Mr McClay said.

Canada has previously said the TPP can not legally progress without the USA because of the way the trade deal was framed: It was negotiated under the condition that a minimum of six countries with a combined GDP of 85 percent of the 12 signatories must ratify it.

PACIFIC RIM trade ministers meeting in Vietnam vowed yesterday to press ahead with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact after the USA pulled out. I think we should as much as possible bring into effect that agreement between 11 countries.

Trade ministers of Japan, Canada and nine other members of the TPP held a meeting in Hanoi on Sunday in the margins of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting.

Lighthizer, a 69-year-old trade lawyer who has a reputation as a tough negotiator stretching back to the Reagan era, was only confirmed by the Senate as USA trade representative on May 11 and sworn in on May 15.

Ministers responsible for trade of the APEC member economies made their call for free and fair trade after the conclusion of the 23rd APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting in Hanoi on May 21.

"I look forward to working with our trade partners to expand United States export market access and address persistent unfair trade practices", Mr Lighthizer said.

The Reagan-era trade veteran has been tasked with renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) - another deal Trumped promised to pull out of, though he later backpedalled after speaking to the leaders of Canada and Mexico.

RCEP, on the other hand, benefits from the backing of China, whose regional dominance has gained greater momentum with the policy shift in the United States and its own Belt and Road initiative to extend its global influence.

However, it remains uncertain whether the 16 nations will make concessions, with some countries including Japan seeking high-standard trade and investment rules, while China and others are looking for swift implementation of a deal mainly covering tariff matters.

The APEC gathering on Sunday failed to agree on the usual joint statement after the United States objected to formulations supporting free trade and opposing protectionism, according to officials.

  • Larry Hoffman