Sun, Nov 12, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Pacific nations negotiate framework on TPP pact

PACIFIC PEACE:Canada said that progress has been made on talks, but there is still much negotiation ahead for the deal that covers 40% of the global economy

Bloomberg

Leaders pose for the "family photo" during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders` summit in the central Vietnamese city of Danang yesterday.

Photo: AFP

A blockbuster Pacific trade pact abandoned by US President Donald Trump has edged closer to becoming reality after days of tense talks in Vietnam.

Japanese Minister of the Economy Toshimitsu Motegi said the 11 remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have secured a framework agreement on how to salvage the deal.

Canada, which held out for a day on signing onto the agreement, said it had won some desired concessions while adding that work is needed to reach a full deal.

Motegi spoke to reporters in Da Nang late on Friday, after ministers held another meeting and confirmed the content of the broad agreement, which includes sections to be suspended after the US withdrawal earlier this year.

“We reconfirmed the agreement from yesterday [Thursday], including all the details of the wording used,” Motegi said.

“There’s no mistake,” he said, referring to initial claims from Japan on Thursday that a deal had been struck that were disputed by other countries, causing confusion. “No changes were made to the text.”

Canadian Minister of International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne defended the delay, saying he had refused to be rushed into an agreement on what he now called the “Comprehensive Progressive TPP.”

The frictions in talks — which saw the Vietnamese trade negotiator walk out late on Thursday night in frustration — had raised concerns that the deal might collapse.

“What we’ve been able to achieve is to preserve market access in Japan, we’ve been able to improve the progressive elements and we’ve also been able to suspend key sections like intellectual property which our Canadian stakeholders thought would have an impact on innovation,” Champagne said.

“We made progress, but we clearly identified the things we still need to work on,” he said. “We have a framework that has been established, so in the sense that we know the elements that people wanted to preserve.”

The TPP, which would have covered 40 percent of the global economy, was thrown into disarray when Trump withdrew the US in one of his first acts as president due to a perceived risk to US jobs, leaving other countries scrambling to keep the deal alive.

The TPP was seen as a hallmark of US engagement with Asia under the prior administration and a buffer against China’s rising clout.

Meanwhile, Liu Meng-chun (劉孟俊), an economist at Taiwan’s Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (中華經濟研究院), yesterday said the nation must find a way to join the TPP, and that it must avoid becoming marginalized while also seeking to strengthen its trade relationship with the US.

With the withdrawal of the US, Japan is to take over its leadership role within the TPP, he said, adding that it remains to be seen whether Japan can convince other TPP members to allow Taiwan to be part of the agreement.

Liu said he hopes that Taiwan’s Representative to Japan Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) can speed up efforts to join the agreement.

Vietnam, where several Taiwanese business interests are concentrated, is a TPP member, which could add leverage to Taiwan’s bid for membership, Liu added.

Additional reporting by CNA

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