Trans-Pacific Partnership talks collapse after Canada pulls out of trade deal

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is welcomed to Vietnam as she steps onto the tarmac

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may not be dead in the water just yet, with Canada's trade minister denying that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deliberately skipped a leaders' meeting in Vietnam.

Heading into APEC, a senior Canadian government official said Ottawa had been anticipating pressure from TPP partners Japan and Australia, two countries that wanted to move forward quickly with sealing the 11-country deal.

His decision Friday to keep negotiating for a better deal in the 11-country pact rather than striking an agreement led to the abrupt cancellation of a TPP leaders' meeting on the sidelines of a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation.

Abe said Canada "was not at a stage to confirm the agreement" reached at the ministerial level and that the leaders' gathering would be "postponed".

In the end, Canada's Minister for International Commerce Francois-P Champagne said in a tweet Saturday that "after lots of work, big progress on the 'Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership'".

Mr Trudeau is yet to explain why he got "cold feet", with some suspicion that upcoming elections in industrial Quebec may have contributed to his last minute hesitation to support the TPP.

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The remaining TPP countries have been working to salvage the deal, which was abandoned earlier this year by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The 11 counties remaining in the trade pact rejected by Trump in January have been working to revise the deal to allow them to proceed without USA involvement.

Trump criticized multilateral free trade agreements like the TPP, saying in a speech Friday, "What we will no longer do is enter into large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible". The talks were "very productive, ' but more discussion was needed, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo was reported to have said on Thursday".

The TPP was an attempt to give a practical trade expression to the original aspirations of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Mr Marles said.

The agreement will now be called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), says a statement released today.

Partly to counter China's growing dominance in Asia, Japan had been lobbying hard for the TPP pact, which aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products across the 11-nation bloc whose trade totalled $356 billion past year.

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Canada's position has been further complicated by the fact that it is simultaneously renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) with the Trump administration. They're all attending the APEC Leaders Retreat in the afternoon.

Over the past week as talk of some kind of deal grew louder, senior officials and Trudeau alike have talked about wanting to roll back concessions made during the broader TPP talks when the United States was still involved.

"We weren't ready to close it yesterday", Trudeau told reporters at the closing news conference for the APEC summit in Vietnam.

The Apec leaders met in closed sessions on Saturday, pausing for the traditional "family photograph", taken above the South China Sea.

Junichi Sugawara, a trade policy expert at the Mizuho Research Institute, said, "Realistically speaking, I think it will be quite hard for Japan to fend off requests to start negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement, although it depends on how hard the United States pushes".

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