Japan PM Abe Says Welcomes Broad Agreement on TPP Trade Deal

Garment workers sew clothes at the Pro Sports factory in Nam Dinh province Vietnam on Oct. 24

Garment workers sew clothes at the Pro Sports factory in Nam Dinh province Vietnam on Oct. 24

The Vietnamese trade minister says 11 Pacific Rim countries have reached a "fundamental agreement" on continuing with a free trade pact after the US abandoned it.

They say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's absence from Friday's meeting was due to scheduling problems.

The countries, which include Canada and Japan, agreed to central components of an agreement that would allow the lifting of tariffs between them, promoting more open trade.

Briefing New Zealand media ahead of the APEC Leaders' Retreat in Da Nang, Viet Nam, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "I wouldn't want to speculate but I think probably we're in a more stable place than we were yesterday".

Those countries have now come back onside, International Trade Minister Philippe-Fran├žois Champagne told CBC News, and have agreed to the terms of the original TPP.

After U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the world's biggest economy from the TPP, Japan had been eager to clinch an accord at the APEC summit, with the remaining 11 signatories sharing the goal of an early implementation of the pact.

The Canadian team had no plans to agree to the deal at Friday's TPP leaders' meeting unless the modifications were made.

The move prompted worldwide headlines because foreign media reports had predicted TPP partners would reach an agreement when they gathered for the APEC event in Danang.

The ministers have assigned chief negotiators to continue to work on contentious technical issues and conduct legal reviews in preparation for the signing of the pact, Anh said.

Ministers from the eleven TPP countries met this week on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the resort city of Danang in Vietnam.

The basic agreement would maintain "the high standards, overall balance and integrity of the TPP while ensuring the commercial and other interests of all participants", they said.

Facing Canadian domestic political pressures similar to those faced by the New Zealand Labour-led government from the left of its support base, it appears Canada has pushed for the inclusion of the "comprehensive, progressive" wording to stress this is not an "old-style" agreement focused only on trade.

The agreement will now be called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), says a statement released today.

The TPP aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products across a bloc whose trade totaled $356 billion a year ago.

"The "just about" could be important; there are four provisions of the TPP which are suspended".

"Particularly when it comes to culture, when it comes to the auto sector, you'll bet that we'll take the time to consult with stakeholders to get the deal done", he told reporters.

The TPP member countries are trying to find a way forward without the US, the biggest economy and, before Trump took office, one of its most assertive supporters. China is not part of the TPP.

In their retreat, leaders were expected to discuss broader regional concerns such as North Korea's nuclear program and missile tests.

Mr Trump and the other 20 leaders of the APEC economies will on Saturday retreat into the Summit for private talks.

Junichi Sugawara, a trade policy expert at the Mizuho Research Institute, said, "Realistically speaking, I think it will be quite hard for Japan to fend off requests to start negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement, although it depends on how hard the United States pushes".

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