Pacific trade deal reached but leaders won't endorse it yet

Lester Mason
November 14, 2017

Trade ministers from the 11 remaining nations - which include Japan, Canada, Mexico, and Australia - agreed on the "core elements" of a new deal over the weekend but said more work needs to be done to reach a full agreement. However, an immediate formal endorsement by the countries' leaders meeting in Vietnam appeared unlikely.

There are effectively four remaining issues of concern to Canada to be resolved, Mr Ciobo said.

Trudeau said days earlier that Canada would not be rushed into an agreement.

The announcement of a basic agreement was delayed by last-minute discord that prevented the TPP leaders from endorsing the plan when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not join other leaders to endorse an agreement in principle on pressing ahead without the US. Late Thursday, there had been "no distance between the parties", he said.

Trump has expressed preference for negotiating one-on-one trade agreements with other countries, saying he can ensure a better deal for American workers. Detractors of the TPP say it favors corporate interests over labor and other rights. Unlike the TPP trade pact, whose decisions will eventually be enforced, APEC's statements are nonbinding.

Canada's interest in becoming a party to TPP-11 is also said to be contingent on several additional improvements including in relation to the auto sector (in view of the fact that US content may not count in the determination of TPP-11 origin requirements, with the USA being outside of the TPP), intellectual property rules, protection of supply management in certain agricultural sectors and Canada's cultural industries.

It shows the willingness of countries across Asia and the Americas to move on with broad free trade deals in the face of Trump's "America first" rhetoric, - of which he delivered a strong dose at the Vietnam summit.

Trump's dramatically different stances from his predecessor, Barack Obama - such as his "America First" trade strategy and his skepticism over climate change - were apparent in Danang.

The U.S. president told an APEC business conference that "we are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore".

The 11 countries remaining in the trade pact rejected by Mr Trump in January have been working to revise the deal to allow them to proceed without United States involvement.

In contrast, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping spoke directly and stressed on how "openness brings progress".

The aim of the pact is to create an unprecedentedly expansive, multilateral free-trade agreement covering the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Countries like Japan are eager to use the salvaged TPP to counter China's growing sway.

APEC operates by consensus and customarily issues nonbinding statements. At least six members must ratify the pact for it to go into effect. Danang, Vietnam's third largest city, is in the midst of a construction boom as dozens of resorts and smaller hotels pop up along its scenic coastline.

She said New Zealand had gone into the talks to be constructive and had made some good gain and that it would be disappointing for New Zealand exporters.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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