Move to salvage Trans-Pacific Partnership gathers steam on APEC sidelines
Danang, Vietnam: Trade Ministers of 11 countries have reached agreement on a pact to salvage a Pacific Rim trade deal rejected by the United States that has been lobbying for on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
But several countries, including Japan and Canada, disagree on how fast the agreement should be progressed. They differed, too, on what had been agreed.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters after arriving in the Vietnamese seaside city of Danang the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will bring together economies with a collective GDP of about $US10 trillion.
“So that is a huge market,” he said.
Mr Turnbull began lobbying hard for the TPP after arriving in Danang, telling an APEC 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.”
Japan’s Minister for TPP negotiations Toshimitsu Motegi described the agreement reached after days of intense negotiations in Danang as a “high standard and balanced agreement.”
“The agreement has a great significance in creating free, fair and new rules in the Asia-Pacific region where growth is robust,” he said.
However Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne later said on Twitter: “Despite reports, there is no agreement in principle on TPP.”
Canadian officials have insisted Canada, the second largest economy among the TPP nations after Japan, would not be rushed into reviving the pact.
A Canadian official said ministers from different countries may have different interpretations of what ministers have agreed on.
Mexico officials said agreement had been reached but gave no details.
Mr Turnbull and leaders of the other 10 nations are tentatively scheduled to meet at APEC to discuss the proposals of ministers.
Backed by , Japan has lobbied hard to proceed with the pact that is seen as a way to counter China’s regional dominance.
US President Donald Trump, who abandoned the TPP days after taking office, is scheduled to make a keynote speech at the annual 21-member APEC talk-fest that will be carefully examined for clues as to how his “America first” mantra will guide US engagement in Pacific Rim countries.
Leaving behind escalating tensions with Opposition leader Bill Shorten over the citizenship crisis, Mr Turnbull turned to trade at APEC, saying he will be urging 20 other APEC member countries not to turn their backs on protectionism.
“The region cannot close the door to the flow of goods, services, capital and ideas,” he said.
Mr Turnbull announced a new trade agreement with Peru, one of the world’s fastest growing economics that will generate more exports, including for farmers who have been effectively shut out of the country’s market.
It will eliminate 99 per cent of tariffs that exporters face to the country.
There will be immediate duty free access for n sheep, kangaroo meat, most wine and most horticulture products, including wheat.
Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said concluding the agreement at APEC sends an important message to the world that ” embraces trade because we know it creates jobs and drives economic growth.”
Peru’s GDP is similar to that of Vietnam and its population is similar to Malaysia.