Eleven trade ministers reach deal on TPP without US
-- Nov 11
Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries said they reached an agreement Saturday to proceed with the free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that was in doubt after U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned it. However, an immediate formal endorsement by the countries’ leaders meeting in Vietnam appeared unlikely.

A statement issued in the early hours Saturday said an accord was reached on “core elements” of the 11-member pact. The compromise was delayed by last-minute disagreements that prevented the TPP leaders from meeting to endorse a plan on Friday.

“Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,” the 11 nations said in a statement.

Japan’s delegate to the talks, Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, told reporters that disagreements that cropped up Friday had been resolved in five hours of talks that stretched late into the night.

“We have confirmed there was no mistake about us having reached a basic agreement,” Motegi said.

Asked by reporters if the deal had the support of Canada, whose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not show up for the meeting planned for Friday, Motegi said “yes.”

“Canada did agree, and that means the ‘top’ also agreed,” he said. Japanese media reported that the Japanese and Vietnamese co-chairs of the ministerial meetings would hold a news conference Saturday on the sidelines of the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which wraps up later in the day.

The TPP, which would have covered 40 percent of the global economy, was thrown into disarray when Trump withdrew the U.S. in one of his first acts as president due to a perceived risk to American jobs, leaving other countries scrambling to keep the deal alive. The TPP discussions in Vietnam centered around suspending some parts of the agreement in a bid to move forward without America’s involvement.

The trade deal was seen as a hallmark of U.S. engagement with Asia under the prior administration and a buffer against China’s rising clout. Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter called it more strategically important than having another aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific. It would go beyond traditional deals by including issues like intellectual property, state-owned enterprises and labor rights.

Aspects of the trade pact have raised hackles also over a requirement that companies be allowed to sue governments for lack of enforcement of related laws.

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