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Trans-Pacific trade deal moves ahead without US

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-13 07:19

DA NANG, Vietnam - Eleven countries in an ambitious free trade deal have agreed to go ahead without the United States after a week of drama when agreement seemed elusive.

They will stick to the core elements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreed on two years ago, but which the United States pulled out of in January.

The deal substantially lowers tariffs on a wide range of goods and, even without the US, remains attractive, although some had sought to weaken its onerous standards.

The new pact - the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the TPP - suspends 20 provisions of the original TPP, mostly on intellectual property.

It was reached on the sidelines of the annual leaders' meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a grouping of 21 economies set up to liberalize trade across the region. All the TPP countries are members of APEC.

Trans-Pacific trade deal moves ahead without US

Japan's Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said the CPTPP will enter into force after at least six members ratify it. Its members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said it took "a lot of skill and determination and willingness "among the 11 parties to agree not to renegotiate the pact, even though the circumstances have changed.

"It is not easy to take the TPP that was designed for 12 countries, remove one and then have the remaining 11 reach an agreement almost the same as the original, because economic calculations change, strategic calculations change, and political calculations change."

The deal appeared to hit a major roadblock on Friday when a planned meeting of TPP leaders was shelved as Canadian PM Justin Trudeau did not attend. His Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne later put this down to "a misunderstanding about the schedule".

Ever since US President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the TPP in one of his administration's first acts in January, Japan - the next-biggest economy in the group - has taken the lead in negotiations.

Seven TPP members are also in talks on another deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Its 16 members comprise all 10 ASEAN nations as well as China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Chinese Foreign Ministry official Zhang Jun said in Da Nang on Saturday that the CPTPP would not impact the RCEP's prospects.

RCEP members held a 20th round of talks last month and their leaders will meet again at the ASEAN summit in Manila on Tuesday.

The Straits Times/ANN

(China Daily 11/13/2017 page11)

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