TPP members aim to revive deal after U.S. pullout


A meeting of trade ministers in Vietnam is a chance for the 11 remaining countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to decide what happens next, says New Zealand's Trade Minister.

"The big announcement if it all holds together will be that there will be agreement to move forward as TPP 11", the source said.

The 11 counties remaining in the deal after the USA pulled out, the so-called TPP-11 nations, were planning a statement of commitment to the pact, sources closes to the discussions told Reuters.

Meanwhile, Japan is leading the countries that still want to go ahead with a much more comprehensive TPP agreement, a deal Trump ditched in one of his first acts in office and which does not include China. Some countries that hoped to boost exports to the United States may be reluctant to implement just the 11-party TPP, arguing that without the world's largest economy, the agreement would little benefit their economies.

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

The agreement is due to come into force next year. A Vietnamese official expressed a similar view.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sent a letter to U.S. congressional leaders on Thursday, notifying them of the Trump administration's intent to renegotiate and "modernize" the 23-year-old trade pact.

Mustapa said there was optimism the United States would return one day, because Trump had shown readiness to shift his position on other matters, such as softening his stance towards China.

Asian governments are watching with some anxiety the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement, as the Trump administration kicks off a review of the pact.

In Hanoi, Lighthizer is also due to hold two-way meetings to start making official contact with key trade officials.

The discussions were going on for an APEC meeting, which is the largest trade meeting since President of USA overturned the world order with his "America First" policy.

Trump has been sticking to his tough approach, demanding "free and fair trade" via a withdrawal from the TPP, renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) between the US, Canada and Mexico, and engaging in direct talks with major trading partners in an effort to reduce the US' $750 billion trade deficit and stop jobs from being lost overseas to lower-cost manufacturing nations.

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

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. The deal was therefore effectively dead following the withdrawal of the United States, which accounts for over 60 percent of the trade bloc's GDP.

Given the uncertainty over TPP, the China-backed deal was now the priority for Malaysia, Mustapa said.