TPP leaders at Apec meeting vow efforts to implement pact despite Trump's opposition
The leaders of the 12 member states of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to step up efforts to implement the free trade agreement in a veiled counter to US President-elect Donald Trump over his protectionist stance.
In a meeting in Lima, the leaders affirmed their intention to advance domestic procedures such as ratification by parliaments of member states so that the US-led TPP can enter into force, according to a senior Japanese official.
Although it is unclear whether the free trade pact will come into force with a new Trump administration, the leaders did not discuss the possibility of implementing the TPP without the participation of the United States, the official said
US President Barack Obama was quoted by the official as saying his administration will continue efforts to win domestic support for the pact, which Trump has vowed to scrap once he takes office in January.
Obama “discussed his support of high-standard trade agreements like TPP, which level the playing field for American workers and advance our interests and values in the economically dynamic and strategically-significant Asia-Pacific region,” the White House said.
Obama “urged his fellow leaders to continue to work together to advance TPP,” it said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “If we stop our domestic procedures, the TPP will be completely dead. It will be impossible for us to curb protectionism,” according to the Japanese official.
It is not immediately known whether the leaders’ call for implementing the TPP would prompt Trump to reverse the harsh anti-globalism rhetoric he advocated during his presidential campaign.
During the hour-long meeting, the TPP leaders underscored the significance of the pact, both economically and strategically, in ensuring stability and prosperity for the region, according to the official.
During his presidential campaign, Trump, a New York business mogul, has slammed the TPP as a job-killing “disaster”, tapping into populist anger at trade, globalisation and manufacturing job losses.
His victory in the November 8 election has left little chance of the TPP being voted on in the US Congress before Obama leaves office in January.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dashed hopes that the TPP would come up for a vote before the president’s departure, saying any decision on the TPP and other trade agreements would be up to Trump.
Obama has championed the TPP, vowing to write high-standard trade rules for the fast-growing region as the centerpiece of his policy of strategic rebalance to Asia in response to the rise of China, a non-TPP party.
But the TPP suffered a blow last week after Vietnam said it would not ratify it and Australia signalled support for Chinese-led trade deals.
Vietnam was projected to see the biggest percentage boost to the economy of any country in the TPP – about 10 per cent by 2030, mostly thanks to textiles and apparel.
The leaders met on the sidelines of a two-day summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum through Sunday, at which the 21 member economies are expected to underscore the importance of free trade and open markets as the world is faced with rising protectionism and stagnated trade growth.
Apec groups the TPP members -- Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam - and China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.