negotiators meet in Sydney to advance trade pact after U.S. exit
The chief negotiators from the 11 remaining Trans-Pacific
Partnership countries began Monday three days of talks in Sydney to
advance the implementation of the regional free trade pact following
the withdrawal of the United States.
Representatives from both the Japanese and Australian
delegations shared their hopes for a speedy outcome to negotiations
which have been on shaky ground since President Donald Trump
announced the U.S. withdrawal in January, in order to pursue
bilateral deals that adhere to his "America first" doctrine.
"When we see the emergence of protectionist tendencies in many
parts of the world, it is very, very important for (these) 11
countries to maintain solidarity and unity," Japanese chief
negotiator Kazuyoshi Umemoto said.
Meeting host Australia declared a desire to finalize agreements
ahead of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Vietnam
in November, despite the complexities involved.
"We appreciate that...this is a challenging process and all of
us have political sensitivities that we need to take into account,"
said Australian chief negotiator Justin Brown. "I'm committed to
working with all of you to reach a consensus that matches our
Over the next three days, negotiators will discuss how to modify
the original text of the TPP agreement.
Last month, Umemoto and his counterparts met at a hot spring
resort southwest of Tokyo and agreed to put the trade deal into force
under a new framework.
The TPP was signed in February 2016 by Australia, Brunei,
Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore,
the United States and Vietnam -- covering around 40 percent of the
But as currently framed, the trade agreement can only be put
into force when ratified by at least six countries accounting for a
combined 85 percent of the economic output of the initial 12
signatory nations -- an impossible hurdle to clear with the
withdrawal of the United States, which alone accounted for 60 percent
of the total.
Thus the agreement must be revised, and the 11 remaining
countries are divided on how far the changes should go. (Aug. 28)