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PM: New TPP should leave door open for US return

Released at: 19:06, 16/11/2017

PM: New TPP should leave door open for US return

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc receives President of Nikkei Inc Naotoshi Okada on Nov.15 (Photo: VGP)

Prime Minister tells leaders of Japanese media organizations of his desire to persuade Donald Trump to reconsider exit.

by Quang Huy

The remaining members of the TPP should leave the door open for a US return, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told Nikkei Inc. President and CEO Mr. Naotoshi Okada as well as Mr. Tsuyoshi Hasebe, Editor-in-Chief of The Nikkei on November 15.

The eleven countries have reached a broad agreement on pursuing the trade pact minus the US.

“The successful TPP 11 negotiations are an outcome of Japan and Vietnam’s devotion, as both parties played a difficult role as co-host countries,” Prime Minister Phuc said. The two must continue striving towards signing a comprehensive, sophisticated pact, he added.

He revealed he received a letter from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prior to the TPP 11 agreement. Their close relationship seems to have played a key role in advancing the talks at the recent APEC Summit in Da Nang, where some participating countries clashed heavily.

The Prime Minister also said he initiated a meeting with Mr. Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s Minister in charge of the TPP. When Mr. Motegi asked why he was so passionate about the trade deal, he explained he was fully committed because of his close ties with Prime Minister Abe.

Regarding US President Donald Trump pulling the US out of the TPP under his “America First” policy, Prime Minister Phuc urged him to rejoin the framework in order to “secure other member states’ and its own interests.”

He said he spoke with Prime Minister Abe on how to persuade President Trump to rejoin, showing a strong interest in luring the US back into the fold. Should the US return, the pact’s members would account for 37.5 per cent of the world’s GDP, 11.3 per cent of the global population, and 25.7 per cent of total trade; double to triple the figures for the TPP 11.

While President Trump appears unlikely to change his mind, Japan and Vietnam plan to enlist other countries in their efforts to persuade him on the pact.

The US looks to Vietnam’s “growing middle class as a key market for American goods and services,” President Trump said while in Vietnam for the APEC Summit, while also stressing the need for “fair and reciprocal trade.”

Prime Minister Phuc also discussed the reform of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) during the November 15 discussions, one of Vietnam’s major economic concerns. “We want foreign companies to hold stakes in Vietnamese SOEs,” he said, expressing a hope that foreign shareholders would also act as strategic investors that provide management know-how. “We want Japanese strategic investors to drive reforms at SOEs.”

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