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Announcement on "TPP 11" may come at APEC Summit

Released at: 11:37, 19/10/2017 APEC Viet Nam 2017

Announcement on "TPP 11" may come at APEC Summit

Illustrative image (Source: kienthuc.net.vn)

Eleven remaining members of trade pact to meet on sidelines of APEC meeting next month.

by Quang Huy

Following intensive discussions in the wake of the US’s withdrawal from the massive free trade deal, the eleven remaining members of the TPP are expected to outline their plans at the APEC Summit hosted in Vietnam next month.

APEC Executive Director Mr. Alan Bollard told CNBC in an interview that the group may discuss their plans on the sidelines of the summit in the central city of Da Nang. “We have spent the first part of this year digesting what difference the US administration’s decision might mean for trade policies and some of the latest efforts we’re making,” he said. “I think we’ve got a clear picture on that now.”

He said the TPP 11 may make an announcement regarding the fate of the trade deal at the APEC Leaders Meeting. “One possibility could be that they decide to go ahead, with some changes reflecting the fact that the US is no longer there,” he said.

The door, however, may be left open for the US to return. “Some of the points that the US was promoting very strongly are no longer there in the agreement, but may come in if and when it decides it wants to come in,” he added.

The APEC Summit, the second hosted in Vietnam after the first in 2006, is a key gathering of leaders from the 21 member economies, including some of the world’s largest. The Leaders Meeting on November 11-12 will be attended by China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and the US’s Donald Trump, who is also scheduled to fly to Hanoi for his first State visit to the country at the end of the summit.

This will be the first APEC meeting for Mr. Trump, as well as South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

Two years ago, the 12 members of APEC drafted an agreement on the TPP, with the export-driven Vietnamese economy expected to enjoy among the greatest economic benefits through expanded access to the US market. But the trade pact, which aimed to cut trade barriers in some of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, was thrown into limbo in January when Mr. Trump withdrew from the agreement to prioritize protecting US jobs.

It was previously reported that although the remaining members have voiced continued commitment to the deal, adoption of the pact linking eleven countries with a combined GDP of $12.4 trillion has stalled at times, raising fears that other countries may follow the US’s lead.

At a previous meeting in Sydney in late August, Vietnam raised the prospect of changes to labor rights and intellectual property (IP) provisions in the original pact. Its desire to shelve the IP provisions around pharmaceutical data is likely to win broad support, as Japanese and New Zealand officials have indicated they back the change.

Moving forward, negotiators also need to decide how to ratify the deal. The original pact required ratification by at least six countries accounting for 85 per cent of the combined GDP of members. That condition cannot be fulfilled after the US withdrew and would need to be changed.

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