Na­tions meet in Canada to dis­cuss fate of pact with­out US

New Straits Times - - World -

TORONTO: Canada is host­ing a round of ex­ploratory ne­go­ti­a­tions on the fu­ture of the Tran­sPa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) af­ter the United States bowed out.

Se­nior trade of­fi­cials from ev­ery re­main­ing sig­na­tory coun­try con­vened the so-called TPP-mi­nus-one talks, here, start­ing yes­ter­day.

While min­is­ters won’t at­tend, the event was ex­pected to set the stage for an up­com­ing Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion sum­mit of trade min­is­ters in Viet­nam.

This week’s talks are also the lat­est sign of Canada look­ing to pivot in part away from its big­gest trad­ing part­ner — com­ing amid es­ca­lat­ing dis­putes with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion over the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, soft­wood lum­ber and the dairy sec­tor.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s gov­ern­ment re­sponded to US lum­ber du­ties last week by say­ing it would in turn try to sell more of its prod­ucts to Asia.

“Canada bills it­self as the bridge be­tween the Pa­cific and the At­lantic, and we’re happy to host them,” said In­ter­na­tional Trade Min­is­ter Fran­coisPhilippe Cham­pagne on Mon­day.

“It shows that Canada is front and cen­tre when it comes to trade in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion.”

The gov­ern­ment has left the door open to pur­su­ing a bi­lat­eral trade deal with Ja­pan — the big­gest econ­omy re­main­ing in the TPP — and Trudeau said in an in­ter­view last month Canada seemed to be in a “post-TPP world”. Bloomberg

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