Trans Pacific Partnership deal back on track

Monday, 13 Nov, 2017

Earlier in the day, the TPP countries agreed on the core elements to move ahead with the trade pact, after last-minute resistance from Canada raised new doubts about its survival.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not show up at meeting after holding talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.

It has been reported that the 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries have reached an agreement on "core elements" of the trade pact, including that all countries will adhere to strict labour and environmental standards.

While some countries might be eager for a deal, notably Australia, New Zealand and Japan - their respective national news outlets quoted government sources expressing disappointment at Trudeau supposedly "screwing" and "sabotaging" a final agreement by being a no-show - Trudeau said they should never have expected to leave Vietnam with an agreement in hand.

Canada's foreign affairs minister said Ottawa is still at the TPP negotiating table and it doesn't want to rush on such a complex deal.

Mr Trudeau is yet to explain why he got "cold feet", with some suspicion that upcoming elections in industrial Quebec may have contributed to his last minute hesitation to support the TPP.

But the chances of bringing Washington back to the pact, originally signed by all 12 countries in February 2016, look slim given U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" mantra, which is leading him on a quest for bilateral deals with countries running large trade surpluses with the United States.

"We obviously had lots to talk about and at the end of that meeting it became clear that it was in everyone's interest to postpone the leaders' meeting on the TPP11", Trudeau said.

"I'm very confident. And I know my counterparts in the 10 other countries, we all feel that we can accommodate the various questions that are outstanding".

Ardern said she had discussed her constitutional relationship with the Burmese military.

Trade ministers including David Parker held emergency talks in Da Nang, Vietnam on Friday night while leaders were at the APEC Summit gala dinner.

A key topic of discussion, as they sank into the yellow cushions on their chairs, focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks.

"The "just about" could be important; there are four provisions of the TPP which are suspended".

The TPP member countries are trying to find a way forward without the US, the biggest economy and, before Trump took office, one of its most assertive supporters.

A Canadian official said: "We've agreed to a framework towards the deal, with work programmes to deal with issues".

China's President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, used the same forum to stress multilateralism and said that globalization is an irreversible trend. China is not part of the TPP.

Mr Trump and the other 20 leaders of the APEC economies will on Saturday retreat into the Summit for private talks.

"The fact that global meetings were held continuously in a very short time is unprecedented, it did not happen even during the earlier negotiation period", Motegi said. The release of a set of ministerial agreements early Saturday suggested the leaders would finesse any disagreements, as usual, to demonstrate unity and avoid embarrassing their hosts.

On Sunday, Trudeau will attend the ASEAN summit of 10 Southeast Asian leaders in Manila, hosted by President Rodgrigo Duterte, who has faced harsh worldwide criticism for his human rights record.