Canada's decision to decline TPP agreement shouldn't be surprising: Trudeau

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Earlier in the day, the TPP countries agreed on the core elements to move ahead with the trade pact, after last-minute resistance from Canada raised new doubts about its survival.

They say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's absence from Friday's meeting was due to scheduling problems.

Briefing New Zealand media ahead of the APEC Leaders' Retreat in Da Nang, Viet Nam, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "I wouldn't want to speculate but I think probably we're in a more stable place than we were yesterday".

Viet Nam's Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh (left) and Japanese economic revitalisation minister Toshimitsu Motegi, co-chair Saturday's press conference.

"However, prominent anti-TPP campaigner, Jane Kelsey from The University of Auckland law school, said in a statement based on a leaked text of today's progress statement that she was "'disappointed, but not surprised" that the Labour government had largely endorsed the TPP agreement signed up to by the previous National Party-led government "with the suspension of a limited range of items".

Trump has said he prefers country-to-country deals and is seeking to renegotiate several major trade agreements to, as he says, "put America first".

However, there is more work to be done before a final agreement in principle is ironed out as 11 Pacific nations seek to salvage a trade deal, which almost sank after President Donald Trump bailed the United States out of the original 12-nation accord, covering 40 per cent of the world's economy.

"We will not only miss out on the opportunities to strengthen our trade and investment ties with these 10 countries, but also with those countries that have registered their interest to join the CPTPP in future", he added.

Trudeau said Canada will always be "extremely closely linked to the American economy" but there was a need to diversify trade through other deals.

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Canada's representatives were at the meeting and appear to have re-entered talks.

A report in Australia's Sydney Morning Herald said Trudeau "sabotaged" the talks at the last minute by failing to show up for the meeting.

However, Trudeau said days earlier that Canada would not be rushed into an agreement.

Some 20 provisions of the original agreement were suspended.

Trade ministers reconvened overnight while APEC leaders attended the traditional leaders' banquet, where Ardern said she exchanged pleasantries with Trump, including a "standard" handshake, a reference to the president's penchant for extended gripping with counterparts.

Over the past week as talk of some kind of deal grew louder, senior officials and Trudeau alike have talked about wanting to roll back concessions made during the broader TPP talks when the United States was still involved. "Although progress has been made clarifying those issues, there is still more work to be done to bring them to a finality". Under the original TPP, in order for a vehicle to enter Canada tariff-free, 45 per cent of it must have originated in a TPP member nation (auto parts themselves must have a regional content value of 35 to 45 per cent).

The Apec leaders met in closed sessions on Saturday, pausing for the traditional "family photograph", taken above the South China Sea. The official disputes the notion it was a snub because the leaders would mingle at APEC events over the next 24 hours anyway.

"The reality is that showing we are in the process of diversifying our economic interests helps us in the NAFTA negotiations", he said.

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