Ministers of the 11 original signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have agreed on “core elements” of a new trade pact to be implemented without the United States.
New name, renewed growth focus of TPP
The agreement will now be called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), says a statement released today.
While the TPP-11 accord was not endorsed by the top leadership of the countries as expected, the ministers said the new name reflects a focus on inclusive growth, the ministers said after a two-day meeting in the central city of Da Nang.
This information was provided by Vietnam’s Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh and Japanese Economic Revitalisation Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, who co-chaired a press conference on Saturday.
“After two days of the TPP ministerial-level meeting in Da Nang, we all agreed on the deal’s new name and not to make amendments to the original texts but freeze the implementation of some clauses to ensure balance and the quality of the document in the new context,” said Minister Tuan Anh.
“Comprehensive and progressive are key things that we [the ministers] look forward to and we consider the new name reflecting the common goal of inclusive growth,” Tuan Anh said.
He said that the CPTPP was a comprehensive and high-standard agreement on the basis of balancing interests of its member countries, with regard to their development levels.
The ministers have assigned chief negotiators to continue to work on contentious technical issues and conduct legal reviews in preparation for the signing of the pact, Anh said.
“It can be said that the outcome of the meeting in Da Nang has demonstrated great efforts made by the 11 TPP countries to spur economic development, generate jobs, improve people’s living standards, facilitate trade development, enhance regional economic ties and integrate into the world,” said Anh.
Japanese minister Motegi spoke about the negotiation process that led to the agreement on core elements.
“The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership will be included in the Amendment No.1 of the leaders’ joint statement and consists of seven articles,” he said.
Motegi noted that since the US announced its withdrawal in January this year, the TPP ministers have held many meetings in March, May, July, August and September before gathering in Da Nang.
“The fact that international meetings were held continuously in a very short time is unprecedented, it did not happen even during the earlier negotiation period,” Motegi said.
The CPTPP has revised the original TPP text so that it can come into force 60 days after at least six signatories complete domestic procedures.
The 11 ministers also agreed on suspending 20 clauses in the original text if Washington stays out of the pact, including 11 on intellectual property.
Commenting on the CPTPP, Doctor Tran Toan Thang, of the National Centre for Information and Forecasting, MPI, told the Vietnam News:”At last we have an agreement about the future of most debated FTA. I feel TPP-11 will have positive impacts for Việt Nam, of course as not as much as TPP 12.”
“The suspended provisions, in fact, will help narrow TPP challenges for the country,” Thang said.
Earlier, a last-minute objection by Canada had complicated the process.
Japan had hoped that the leaders of the TPP countries would back the deal on the sidelines of the APEC Leaders’Week, but Canada’s unexpected move led to the cancellation of the leaders’ meeting set for Friday afternoon.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not show up at meeting after holding talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.
Abe said Canada “was not at a stage to confirm the agreement” reached at the ministerial level, a Kyodo report said.
At an unexpected press conference held late on Saturday, Trudeau said more work needs to be done to reach a final agreement on a revised Pacific Rim trade pact.
“My most important responsibility is to make sure that is the right deal for Canada and Canadians,” Trudeau told the media in Đa Nang.
The 11 TPP countries are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Without the United States, the 11-party TPP’s share of world gross domestic product drops to 13 percent, but trade experts say the deal would still create a free trade area with a high-standard of market liberalisation.
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