Hopes fade for TPP break­through in APEC

Canada ac­cused of stalling for time, ham­per­ing prospects for a deal

Global Times - Weekend - - FRONT PAGE -

Talks in Viet­nam to res­ur­rect a landmark Pa­cific trade deal re­jected by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion re­mained dead­locked on Fri­day, as Canada was ac­cused of stalling for time and ham­per­ing the prospects of a break­through deal at the Asia Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) meet­ing.

The Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) was ini­tially a US-led tread deal be­tween 12 na­tions ac­count­ing for 40 per­cent of global GDP, which had been hailed by Trump’s pre­de­ces­sor Barack Obama.

But it was thrown into dis­ar­ray when US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump abruptly pulled out of the deal at the start of the year, dis­may­ing al­lies in­clud­ing Ja­pan, Aus­tralia, Canada and Viet­nam.

Hopes had been high that the re­main­ing coun­tries – dubbed the TPP-11 – would be able to hash out a new deal on the side­lines of the an­nual APEC meet­ing in Viet­nam.

They are keen to show the deal can still go ahead with­out the world’s largest econ­omy.

But three days of talks have made lit­tle head­way, de­spite pre­ma­ture re­ports late Thurs­day that an in­terim deal had been struck.

Chile’s for­eign min­is­ter Her­aldo Munoz said ne­go­tia­tors al­most had an agree­ment nailed down un­til a last-minute in­ter­ven­tion by Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau.

“The Prime Min­is­ter of Canada has asked for more time,” he told re­porters on Fri­day af­ter­noon, adding that among the de­mands Ot­tawa was push­ing for were stronger in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tions.

The orig­i­nal TPP deal was once de­scribed by the US as a “gold stan­dard” for all free trade agree­ments be­cause it went far beyond just cut­ting tar­iffs.

It in­cluded re­mov­ing a slew of non-tar­iff mea­sures and re­quired mem­bers to com­ply with a high level of reg­u­la­tory stan­dards in ar­eas like la­bor law, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty and gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment.

Canada is keen to strengthen those pro­gres­sive pro­vi­sions.

But they are much less at­trac­tive to coun­tries like Viet­nam, Malaysia, Chile and Peru now that the car­rot of ac­cess to the US mar­ket has been pulled.

Ja­pan, the world’s third largest econ­omy, is lead­ing the charge to re­vive the TPP, con­cerned that de­lays could lead to the even­tual col­lapse of the pact.

But there has been much con­fu­sion over the progress of talks in Da Nang, with a string of can­celed press con­fer­ences and con­flict­ing state­ments.

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