Japan, New Zealand pledge to carry forward TPP despite U.S. withdrawal

Frederick Owens
May 19, 2017

In a sign of hope for Japan, new US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will attend a meeting of trade ministers from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries on Thursday (May 18) and Friday (May 19) in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay told Radio New Zealand the USA and other non-TPP countries will benefit from the changes to the sharing of pharmaceutical information.

"I think we got better than I'd expected".

TPP rules have to be changed so it can take effect without US participation, but Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso last month said Tokyo would not rule out the option of negotiating such a deal.

According to a joint press release, Abe and English "remain committed to maintaining the unity among the signatories and early entry into force of the TPP agreement".

English said Abe clearly saw Japan playing a leadership role and it was standing together with New Zealand in trying to generate "momentum" and have others back implementation.

"Unbelievably they plan to retain the existing text, with all the toxic rules the U.S. insisted on that undermine affordable medicines, grant foreign investors special rights to enforce offshore, prohibit requirements for data to be held onshore, and more", she said.

"The TPP remains valuable both economically and strategically for New Zealand".

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Trade Minister Todd McClay heads to Vietnam this weekend to chair the next round of talks on the TPP.

English said he and Abe had not discussed that.

RCEP is a parallel free trade agreement led by China.

Negotiators from the remaining 11 members have sought ways to resuscitate talks and deepen economic ties without a United States that appears increasingly suspicious of multilateral deals.

Abe said he welcomed "from the bottom of my heart" that New Zealand had ratified the TPP last week.

And there's a reason - North Korea.

She questioned why the USA would re-joining the agreement, as Mr English has indicated it is hoped they would, if they benefit from the rules without paying for them.

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