Mem­bers seek­ing way for­ward post-US with­drawal

New Straits Times - - Business | World -

VINA DEL MAR (Chile): The re­main­ing mem­bers of the Tran­sPa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) are seek­ing a way for­ward on the trade pact, they said on Wed­nes­day, as some em­pha­sised the need for deals to ad­dress con­cerns about work­ers’ rights and other is­sues.

The TPP was ef­fec­tively tor­pe­doed in its cur­rent form when Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with- drew the United States from the agree­ment.

The 12 mem­bers met for the first time since then on Wed­nes­day, as­sem­bled by Chile along­side China, South Korea, and Colom­bia, to try to thrash out a way for­ward.

With the re­treat of the US, China ap­pears to be the nat­u­ral suc­ces­sor to lead those dis­cus­sions, but an em­pha­sis on get­ting a pro- gres­sive deal that wins buy-in from scep­ti­cal cit­i­zens could see na­tions in the Amer­i­cas forging a dif­fer­ent path.

Crit­ics of the TPP have said it did not do enough to pro­tect jobs. But the pro­posed Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship, pro­moted by China, con­tains far less in terms of pro­vi­sions for pro­tect­ing work­ers and the en­vi­ron­ment.

An­other way for­ward may be via Latin Amer­ica’s Pa­cific Al­liance trade bloc. Its four na­tions said they would seek to ex­pand by al­low­ing as­so­ciate mem­ber­ship as a pre­cur­sor to trade talks.

Trade of­fi­cials are now set to come up with a menu of op­tions for min­is­ters be­fore they meet in May at an Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) gath­er­ing in Viet­nam. Reuters

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