Pacific trade negotiators explore TPP deal without US

Negotiators from 11 member countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement gathered for a meeting in Toronto, Canada on May 2 to explore the possibility of putting the trade pact into force without the US. 

Japan’s chief negotiator, Keiichi Katakami on May 1-2 met with nine out of his ten counterparts to lay the groundwork for the two-day meeting. 

Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting, Katakami stressed the 11 countries need to unite to enable the deal to take effect. 

Japan hopes to strike a new deal by mid-November when Vietnam will host a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, he added. 

Previously, Japan had expressed reluctance to have the TPP come into force without the US – the largest market in the group. 

But with free trade perceived to be under threat with the rise of protectionism since the launch of the administration of US President Donald Trump, calls have been growing in the government for Tokyo’s leadership to keep up the momentum for the free trade.

TPP was signed in February in 2016 by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam, covering around 40 percent of the global economy. 

The withdrawal of the US prevents the deal from taking effect because the country represents over 60 percent of the trade bloc’s GDP.

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