TPP trade deal members seek to move ahead without US

A motorbike waits in front of a sign promoting APEC Summit in Hanoi

The competing visions are evident at this weekend's APEC meeting of ministers from countries that account for well over 40 percent of world trade.

China, putting itself forward as a global free trade champion in light of the U.S. shift, will be pushing a free trade agreement to encompass the vast majority of Asian economies.

As per the sources that are close to the meeting said that after the withdrawal of Unites States, 11 members left. The Japanese government intends to lead discussions and pave the way for early enforcement of the pact by the 11 countries.

Among the challenges is keeping on board Vietnam and Malaysia, which would have been big beneficiaries from the agreement if it included the United States.

Although US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) appeared to deal a death blow to the mega-regional trade pact, the 11 remaining nations have been mulling over every possible way to resurrect it. "There would have to be some renegotiation", Mustapa said.

"There has been less rhetoric and a more realistic approach", he said. But renegotiating the existing North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a bigger immediate priority for Washington.

After arriving in Hanoi Friday, TPP chief Nobuteru Ishihara held a series of bilateral meetings to explain Tokyo's eagerness to form a consensus on how to keep the free trade pact alive with the other 10 signatories later this year.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a veteran Reagan-era trade negotiator with protectionist credentials, is carrying his administration's "America First" ethos with him to Vietnam for the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Community (APEC) trade ministers' meet.

Main countries are China, Japan and South Korea, with which Trump wants to renegotiate a free trade deal.

A draft seen by Reuters of the meeting statement to be issued Sunday also emphasizes free trade.

Mr McClay will also meet bilaterally with a number of key regional trading partners, participate in the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting and attend a separate meeting with Ministers from Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries. Without that, there is less impetus for them to make tough reforms on everything from freeing labour rights to strengthening intellectual property protection.

So far, only Japan and New Zealand have ratified the deal, but McClay said he believed others would follow.

The door would "absolutely" remain open for the United States to return to the agreement in the future, the source added.

The deal, which would have covered 40% of the global economy, was seen as a hallmark of USA engagement with Asia under the prior administration and a buffer against China's rising economic and military clout.



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