Japan has started to pave the way for realization of the 11-party Trans-Pacific Partnership deal to establish "high-level" rules on trade in the Asia-Pacific region even excluding the United States, government officials said Friday.
Canada and Mexico have been unwilling to irritate US President Donald Trump by joining the TPP, as they stare down a possible renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Washington in the near future.
Ministers from the 11 members are slated to hold a one-day meeting, co-chaired by Vietnam and New Zealand, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering.
"There will be two main points: 1".
"The big announcement if it all holds together will be that there will be agreement to move forward as TPP 11", the source said. "To bear in mind an environment where a signatory country can return", said one source close to the discussions who was not authorised to speak to the media.
The agreement is due to come into force next year.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sent a letter to U.S. congressional leaders on Thursday, notifying them of the Trump administration's intent to renegotiate and "modernize" the 23-year-old trade pact.
Vietnam would want to renegotiate requirements in areas like labor reform and intellectual property rights if it were to continue without US participation, said one Vietnamese official who declined to be identified.More news: Trump warns ousted Federal Bureau of Investigation chief not to leak to media, threatens 'tapes'
Trump has been sticking to his tough approach, demanding "free and fair trade" via a withdrawal from the TPP, renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) between the US, Canada and Mexico, and engaging in direct talks with major trading partners in an effort to reduce the US' $750 billion trade deficit and stop jobs from being lost overseas to lower-cost manufacturing nations.
"There has been less rhetoric and a more realistic approach", he said to Reuters.
However, renegotiating the existing North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a bigger immediate priority for Washington. Almost all the other 20 members of APEC had requested bilateral meetings, United States officials said.
However, he told Reuters in an interview that a bigger priority for Malaysia at the moment was completing negotiations on the China-backed trade deal for Asia, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The free trade agreement doesn't cover as many areas as the TPP deal or demand tough conditions for members on issues such as protecting intellectual property, labour rights or the environment. The United States has never been part of those discussions.
"The TPP has not only economic benefits but also a strategic significance", Ishihara added.
Mustapa said Malaysia was less keen to continue, but added he would like some clarity on the US position on the pact.