China ‘stands up’ for TPP after Trudeau setback
Danang, Vietnam: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he “stood up for ‘s interests” in a meeting with Justin Trudeau after the Canadian leader sabotaged the ratification of a multibillion-dollar Pacific Rim trade deal at the last minute.
“Look, we had a very good and frank discussion,” Mr Turnbull said after Mr Trudeau failed to show up at a meeting that was set to officially revive an 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
“Clearly we were expecting to have 11 nations represented around the table but one didn’t show up so we were disappointed,” he said.
“The commitment to delivering more opportunities for exporters is ongoing,” he said.
“You get setbacks with trade negotiations, it happens all the time.”
Hours after Mr Trudeau’s snub, trade ministers from the 11 countries issued a statement on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit saying they had agreed to press ahead with the agreement US President Donald Trump rejected within days of him taking office.
The statement said “core elements” of the deal had been reached but more work remained to be done.
It said a “limited set of provisions” from the original deal would be suspended, adding further technical work was needed on four areas that still needed consensus “to prepare finalised text for signature.”
But negotiators said Mr Trudeau’s move had made it impossible for the agreement to be ratified during the summit and it could take months or years for negotiations to again reach the ratification stage.
Canadian officials attempted to portray agreement on “core elements” as a breakthrough.
Canada’s Trade Minister Franois-Philippe Champagne, who had earlier agreed to the ratification of the deal by leaders, tweeted that “big progress” had been made.
But negotiators from other countries were fuming over the role of Mr Trudeau, who said after arriving at APEC Canada would not be rushed into a deal.
“There were a lot of unhappy leaders left sitting there,” said an official of the way the leaders were waiting waiting for Mr Trudeau to turn up.
“Everyone was screwed,” he said.
The TPP member countries have been trying to find a way forward without the US.
Mr Trump said in a defiant speech at the summit he would always “put America first” and insist “fair and equal” country-to-country trade deals.
Mr Turnbull had been spruiking the benefits of the TPP since arriving in Danang on Thursday, telling a leaders’ reception the pact “creates rules of the road to match the new economic world in which we’re living”.
“It aims at old hidden trade barriers like corruption and new ones like data protectionism,” he said.
“It works to level the playing field for non-state companies and is designed to defend and extend the freedom to explore, share and capitalise on new ideas.”
Mr Turnbull said the pact would bring together economies with a collective GDP of about $US10 trillion ($13 trillion).
“So that is a huge market,” he said.
‘s Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said it was disappointing the leaders’ ratification had to be cancelled.
He said what the trade ministers had agreed on was a “very high quality deal, one that maintained high standards and would have seen benefits flowing to the countries”.
Mr Ciobo said despite the setback the 10 other countries would need to consider the issues raised by Canada. But no further negotiations or meetings are planned for the summit.
The agreement negotiated over more than a year would deliver 19 new free trade agreements among the 11 countries.
For the pact would open new opportunities in Canada and Mexico and provide greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. The countries account for almost one quarter of ‘s exports of goods and services.
Backed by , Japan had lobbied hard to proceed with the pact that is seen as a way to counter China’s regional dominance.