Trans-Pa­cific trade deal moves ahead with­out US

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - World -

DA NANG, Viet­nam — Eleven coun­tries in an am­bi­tious free trade deal have agreed to go ahead with­out the United States af­ter a week of drama when agree­ment seemed elu­sive.

They will stick to the core el­e­ments of the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship agreed on two years ago, but which the United States pulled out of in Jan­uary.

The deal sub­stan­tially low­ers tar­iffs on a wide range of goods and, even with­out the US, re­mains at­trac­tive, al­though some had sought to weaken its oner­ous stan­dards.

The new pact — the Com­pre­hen­sive and Pro­gres­sive Agree­ment for the TPP — sus­pends 20 pro­vi­sions of the orig­i­nal TPP, mostly on in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty.

It was reached on the side­lines of the an­nual lead­ers’ meet­ings of the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion, a group­ing of 21 economies set up to lib­er­al­ize trade across the re­gion. All the TPP coun­tries are mem­bers of APEC.

Ja­pan’s Econ­omy Min­is­ter Toshim­itsu Motegi said the CPTPP will en­ter into force af­ter at least six mem­bers rat­ify it. Its mem­bers are Aus­tralia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Ja­pan, Malaysia, Mex­ico, New Zealand, Peru, Sin­ga­pore and Viet­nam.

Sin­ga­pore’s Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong said it took “a lot of skill and de­ter­mi­na­tion and will­ing­ness” among the 11 par­ties to agree not to rene­go­ti­ate the pact, even though the cir­cum­stances have changed.

“It is not easy to take the TPP that was de­signed for 12 coun­tries, re­move one and then have the re­main­ing 11 reach an agree­ment al­most the same as the orig­i­nal, be­cause eco­nomic cal­cu­la­tions change, strate­gic cal­cu­la­tions change, and po­lit­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions change.”

The deal ap­peared to hit a ma­jor road­block on Fri­day when a planned meet­ing of TPP lead­ers was shelved as Cana­dian PM Justin Trudeau did not at­tend. His Trade Min­is­ter Fran­cois-Philippe Cham­pagne later put this down to “a mis­un­der­stand­ing about the sched­ule”.

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