Trudeau's no-show at meeting throws spanner in TPP talks

Elias Hubbard
November 13, 2017

Trade ministers chairing meetings on the free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership in Danang, Vietnam, will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. local time (0400 GMT).

Talks between trade and foreign ministers from the group failed to reach agreement on their usual joint statement in the face of United States demands to remove language about supporting free trade and fighting protectionism.

But other participating nations including Canada, whose economy is second-largest of the 11 countries behind Japan, have said they will not be rushed.

The draft said ministers had agreed the core elements of what they described as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

"I'm not going to speculate on what other countries might say", Chrystia Freeland said when asked about the allegations that Canada is holding up the TPP. They're all attending the APEC Leaders Retreat in the afternoon.

Sources close to the discussions, however, said that while the TPP ministers did come to an agreement on a package deal and the legal instrument for the TPP on Thursday night, Canada was unable to proceed with the leaders' meeting on Friday.

The pact, which would have covered 40 percent of the global economy, was thrown into disarray when Donald J. Trump withdrew the U.S. in one of his first acts as president, leaving the remaining 11 countries scrambling to keep the deal alive.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is back on and this time it's got a new name. The agreement will take effect after ratification by six of the 11 members.

The leaders of TPP countries are tentatively scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the proposals of ministers.

APEC trade and foreign ministers separately ended a meeting on Thursday with a "very good outcome", despite differing views on trade and protectionism, Vietnamese Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh said.

The 11 counties remaining in the trade pact rejected by President Donald Trump have been working to revise the deal to allow them to proceed without USA involvement.

At nearly the same time as the TPP leaders were scheduled to meet on Friday, Mr Trump gave a major speech at the Apec CEO Summit and reiterated his disinterest in free-trade deals between multiple countries.

Japan's economic minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, said scheduling difficulties made it hard for the leaders to meet Saturday to formally approve an accord.

"My overall sense is that the 11 countries are like-minded and they believe in openness, and they all believe in having a comprehensive and high-quality agreement", he said.

Abe made the comments Friday after meeting with his Canadian counterpart, Justin Trudeau, in Danang, Vietnam, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The fate of the TPP has been in limbo ever since President Donald Trump yanked the world's largest economy out of the deal early this year.

There was no immediate word on Canada's stance.

That, however, was quickly disputed by Canada, which insisted that there was no such agreement. Leaders of the 11 countries remaining in the TPP had been due to meet and endorse a deal worked out in last-minute talks overnight.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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