A planned meeting in Hanoi of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum failed to agree on its usual joint statement after US opposition to commitments on fighting protectionism.
But on the sidelines of the meeting, the 11 remaining countries of the TPP agreed to explore how they could move ahead without the United States, partly in the hope that Washington would reconsider leaving.
The new U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said there was no way back on America’s opposition to the TPP, but believed the US would seek a series of bilateral agreements with countries in the region.
Details on TPP 2 patchy.
“We’re focused on how we can move ahead with 11 countries,” New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay said. One of the biggest challenges is keeping on board Vietnam and Malaysia, which signed up for the deal and promised to make major reforms largely to gain better U.S. market access.
“We will need to ensure that our interests remain protected and the benefits derived from it still outweigh the costs,” Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed said.
The volume of trade between the remaining countries is barely a quarter of the level it would have been if the United States had remained in the TPP.
Officials from TPP countries will meet again in Japan in July and bring proposals in November, McClay said. It was not clear whether this meant proposals on a timetable for a new deal, or whether new members or arrangements would be sought.