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Agreement reached on TPP

Released at: 13:17, 11/11/2017 APEC Viet Nam 2017

Agreement reached on TPP

Photo: Archives

In principle agreement on re-shaped pact comes after much discussion between remaining eleven members.

by Quang Huy

Trade officials from the eleven remaining members of the TPP have agreed on a plan to bring the pact into force without the US, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh reportedly said before a press briefing on the fate of the trade pact on November 11.

The move came one day after US President Donald Trump sharply criticized large multilateral trade deals during his keynote speech at the annual APEC Leader’s Summit in Da Nang.

Minister Anh told the press briefing that ministers have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the TPP (CPTPP), agreeing to Annex I and II, which incorporate provisions of the TPP, with the exception of a limited set of provisions. which will be suspended.

In a joint statement provided to foreign newswire Politico by the Chilean Government, about 20 provisions that were once part of the TPP have been “suspended”. Notably, no agricultural commitment appears on the list.

Other provisions that won’t go into effect include certain commitments related to express delivery, biologics, investment, telecommunications, and medical devices, among others.

In addition, “this text also incorporates a list of four specific items for which substantial progress was made but consensus must be achieved prior to signing,” the statement read.

The four issues each involve a different country: an issue on State-owned enterprises related to Malaysia; a commitment on coal affecting Brunei; a dispute settlement provision involving trade sanctions connected with Vietnam; and a cultural exception issue related to Canada.

The countries also still have to work out various technicalities and prepare the text, in English and other languages, for verification before it can be signed.

On November 10, the TPP talks appeared to have almost collapsed after Canada pulled out, with ministers visiting Vietnam for the negotiation giving differing accounts on the progress of the landmark deal.

Speaking on the sidelines of the APEC Summit on November 10, Australia’s trade minister Mr. Steve Ciobo told reporters that there was “still more work to do, but we’re inching closer.”

Mr. Ciobo’s statement came after an announcement from Japan’s economy minister, Mr. Toshimitsu Motegi, late on November 9 that negotiators had reached an in principle “ministerial agreement”.

Shortly after Mr. Motegi’s announcement, however, Canadian foreign trade minister Mr. Francois-Philippe Champagne took to Twitter to dispute news reports that an agreement had been finalized, saying “there is no agreement in principle on the TPP.”

Prospects grew dimmer as November 10 progressed, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meeting for talks in what was expected to be a 20-minute face-to-face session that stretched to nearly an hour as the pair talked through the trade pact. Other leaders waited, prepared to announce an agreement. But Mr. Trudeau did not appear.

After the leaders’ meeting collapsed, officials from the Ministry of Industry and Trade told local media that a joint news conference by TPP ministers was off, with Minister Anh telling the Tokyo-based Nikkei Asia Review that leaders had been unable to sign the agreement. Local media went so far as to report that Canada was ready to ditch the “TPP-11”.

But the day was not over. At Mr. Motegi’s call, ministers gathered again on the evening of November 10 to bring Canada around. When negotiators emerged after 10pm, things seemed to have been settled. All participants reaffirmed that the agreement reached on November 9 was “correct” and that Canada would not be making any changes.

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