Trade ministers move on in Pacific without US

DANANG, Vietnam — In a major breakthrough, trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries said they reached a deal Saturday to proceed with the free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that was in doubt after President Trump abandoned it.

 

A statement issued in the early hours today 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.

It said that the ministers maintained “the high standards, overall balance and integrity of the TPP while ensuring the commercial and other interests of all participants and preserving our inherent right to regulate, including the flexibility of the parties to set legislative and regulatory priorities.”

In January, Trump pulled out of the deal that was championed by his predecessor Barack Obama. Leaders of the 11 countries remaining in the TPP had been due to meet and endorse a deal worked out in last-minute talks overnight.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said earlier Friday that the 11 leaders had to postpone their meeting on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Danang, Vietnam. Abe spoke after meeting with Canadian Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau, who had said Canada would not be rushed into an agreement.

The TPP member countries are trying to find a way forward without the U.S., the biggest economy and, before Trump took office, one of its most assertive supporters. Trump has said he prefers country-to-country deals and is seeking to renegotiate several major trade agreements to “put America first.”

Trump reiterated his markedly different stance on trade before the 21-member APEC summit convened late Friday with a gala banquet.

He told an APEC business conference that “we are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore.”

 

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