Eleven countries aiming to forge a new Asia-Pacific trade pact after the US pulled out of an earlier version will hold a signing ceremony in Chile in March, Japan’s economy minister said yesterday in a big win for Tokyo.
Trade officials from the 11 nations had been meeting in Tokyo to try to resolve rifts, including Canada’s insistence on protection of its cultural industries, such as movies, TV and music.
An agreement is a huge plus for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, which has been lobbying hard to save the pact, originally called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the original 12-nation trade agreement last year.
Abe has painted the deal as a spur to growth and reform in Japan and a symbol of commitment to free and multilateral trade at a time when Trump is stressing “America First” policies.
Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi said that the new agreement, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP-11, would be an “engine to overcome protectionism” emerging in parts of the world.
He added that Japan would explain the importance of the deal to Washington in hopes of persuading it to join.
Ministers from the 11 nations, including Japan, Australia and Canada, had agreed in November on core elements to move ahead without the US, but demands by countries, including Canada, for measures to ensure the deal protects jobs have been a sticking point to finalizing the agreement.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also said last week that the new agreement would leave a door open for eventual US participation.
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