Ja­pan to host TPP Pa­cific Rim trade pact talks, mi­nus US

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Mem­bers of a Pa­cific Rim trade ini­tia­tive re­jected by US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump are to hold work­ing-level talks to­day in the Ja­panese moun­tain re­sort town of Hakone, west of Tokyo. The three-day meet­ing among en­voys from the 11 re­main­ing mem­bers of the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship fol­lows a break­through last week on a Ja­pan-Euro­pean Union trade deal seen as a re­pu­di­a­tion of the US moves to pull back from such ar­range­ments.

Last week, Ja­pan named a new chief ne­go­tia­tor for TPP talks, Kazuyoshi Umem­oto, a for­mer am­bas­sador to Italy. Trump pulled the US out of the pact soon af­ter tak­ing of­fice, say­ing his “Amer­ica First” pol­icy fa­vors one-on-one agree­ments with other na­tions rather than multi­na­tional pacts like the TPP. Other TPP mem­bers hope to make progress on an al­ter­na­tive that does not in­clude the U.S. be­fore an Asia-Pa­cific sum­mit in Viet­nam in Novem­ber.

The administration of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama helped lead the five-year ef­fort that yielded a TPP agree­ment in 2015. That deal has to be re­struc­tured since as orig­i­nally agreed it can only take ef­fect af­ter it is rat­i­fied by six coun­tries that ac­count for 85 per­cent of its orig­i­nal mem­bers’ com­bined gross do­mes­tic prod­uct. The US made up 60 per­cent of the TPP’s com­bined GDP, so it could not be im­ple­mented as it stands now.

Ja­panese of­fi­cials say they are hop­ing the TPP talks will get a boost from the Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship Agree­ment reached with the EU, which dis­man­tles trade bar­ri­ers and eases tar­iffs on a wide range of prod­ucts for the two mar­kets accounting for al­most a third of world eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity. The other TPP mem­ber coun­tries are Aus­tralia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mex­ico, New Zealand, Peru, Sin­ga­pore and Viet­nam.

Sup­port­ers of the TPP say it would set high stan­dards for mod­ern trade rules, la­bor, en­vi­ron­men­tal and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tions. Crit­ics say it puts cor­po­rate in­ter­ests ahead of the pub­lic good and na­tional sovereignty. In Asia, the US with­drawal is seen as a step back for US in­flu­ence that leaves wider lee­way for Chi­nese geopo­lit­i­cal and busi­ness in­ter­ests. — AFP

VINA DEL MAR, Chile: In this March 15, 2017, file photo, Chile’s For­eign Min­is­ter Her­aldo Munoz, cen­ter, speaks dur­ing a press con­fer­ence af­ter the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) meet­ing. — AP

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