Sat, Apr 14, 2018 - Page 1 News List

TPP members opposed to adjustments to include US


US President Donald Trump speaks at an event in the White House Rose Garden in Washington on Thursday.

Photo: Bloomberg

Members of the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement yesterday said they opposed any renegotiation of the deal to accommodate the US should it decide to rejoin at a later date.

Ministers from Japan, Australia and Malaysia welcomed US President Donald Trump directing officials to explore returning to the TPP, a pact he withdrew from shortly after taking office.

However, they also cautioned against making any significant changes.

“We welcome the US coming back to the table, but I don’t see any wholesale appetite for any material renegotiation of [the pact],” Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Steven Ciobo said.

Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s minister for the TPP, also said it would be difficult to change the deal, describing it as a “balanced one, like fine glassware.”

Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed echoed the remarks, saying that renegotiation would “alter the balance of benefits for parties.”

Trump on Thursday night said on Twitter that the US would “only join TPP if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to Pres. Obama. We already have BILATERAL deals with six of the eleven nations in TPP, and are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!”

He also expressed optimism about a deal with China, one week after escalating tensions with his threat to impose tariffs on an additional US$100 billion of Chinese products.

The two countries ultimately might end up levying no new tariffs on each other, he said.

“Now we’re really negotiating and I think they’re going to treat us really fairly,” Trump said during a White House meeting with US Republican governors and lawmakers from farm states. “I think they want to.”

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross later said the Trump administration needs to see concrete actions from China to reach a deal.

The remarks were another conciliatory signal from the administration following tit-for-tat tariffs proposals from the world’s two largest economies that rattled markets.

Trump also indicated that talks are progressing toward successful renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump withdrew the US from the TPP during his first week in office.

The pact, which was conceived as a counterweight to Beijing’s rising economic power in the region, had been negotiated under the administration of former US president Barack Obama, but never approved by US Congress.

US Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who participated in a meeting with Trump on Thursday where he spoke about rejoining the deal, said: “He multiple times reaffirmed the point that TPP might be easier to join now.”

The news drew a rebuke from opponents of the multilateral trade pact.

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations president Richard Trumka said on Twitter that the TPP “was killed because it failed America’s workers and it should remain dead.”

Democratic US Senator Sherrod Brown said he was “very open to a new TPP” as long as it had strong labor rights protections and currency provisions.

“You’d need a whole renegotiation,” he said.

The 11 remaining nations represent 13 percent of global output and include Japan and Canada.

They last month finalized a revised version of the trade pact, renaming it the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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