Sun, Jan 15, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Japan, Australia team up to ensure Trans-Pacific Partnership’s survival

AFP and AP, SYDNEY

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, delivers a speech as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, right, listens during a reception at Kirribilli House in Sydney yesterday.

Photo: AP

Japan and Australia will work together to ensure the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade deal comes into force, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday, making no mention of strong US opposition.

After talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Abe took the lead on the trade pact covering 12 Pacific Rim nations that was ratified by the Japanese National Diet last month.

“We agreed that we should demonstrate anew to the world the importance of free trade,” Abe told reporters. “We confirmed that we would coordinate for the early entry into force of the TPP.”

The two men later released a joint statement that “stressed that implementing the TPP remains an indispensable priority because of the significant economic and strategic benefits it offers.”

“For both of our nations, the United States remains the cornerstone of our strategic and security arrangements,” Turnbull said. “We will work closely with the incoming administration, as we have been, to advance the region’s interest and our shared goals.”

He had earlier told Japanese broadcaster NHK in an interview that Australia would “commend” the TPP to the new US administration.

US President Barack Obama championed the deal, saying it would enable Washington to set the global trade agenda in the face of China’s increasing economic might.

However, US president-elect Donald Trump has repeatedly shot it down as bad for the US and particularly for jobs, casting a dark shadow over its future.

The TPP encompasses about 40 percent of the global economy and also includes Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Unveiled last year after years in the making, the TPP cannot be implemented in its current form without US ratification.

Abe has made it a pillar of his growth platform to revive exports and the world’s No. 3 economy.

Trump has said he supports free trade, but that existing deals — such as the North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico — have not been fairly negotiated and do not serve US interests.

Close allies Canberra and Tokyo yesterday also announced a new defense deal to facilitate closer logistics support and cooperation during combined exercises, training and peace-keeping operations.

Abe and Turnbull said they had signed an upgraded defense agreement after talks in Sydney.

The leaders said the pact would allow their militaries to provide each other with logistical support during exercises, and are working toward an agreement that would make it easier to participate in joint military exercises.

“The relationship between Australia and Japan is closer, stronger and more constructive than ever,” Turnbull told reporters.

Abe arrived in Sydney from the Philippines on Friday on the second leg of a four-nation swing intended to boost Japan’s trade and security engagements amid China’s emergence as a military power in the Pacific. After Australia, he is to visit Indonesia and Vietnam.

Abe said the two countries would enhance their coordination on activity in the disputed South China Sea and the nuclear threat posed by North Korea.

“In a situation where there is increasing uncertainty and nebulousness on the political, security and economic scenes, it is important to guard and increase the robustness of the free, open and rules-based international order,” Abe said. “It is more necessary than ever before for Japan and Australia as special strategic partners to play a leading role for regional peace and prosperity.”

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