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TPP Nations Agree to Complete Preparatory Work Without US

TPP Nations Agree to Complete Preparatory Work Without USTPP Nations Agree to Complete Preparatory Work Without US

Ministers from 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries agreed Sunday to complete preparatory work by November to put the free trade pact quickly into force, taking a step closer to implementing the deal without the United States.

But it is uncertain whether they can realize an 11-party TPP anytime soon, as some members remain unwilling to move ahead without the participation of Washington, which pulled out earlier this year, Kyodo News reported.

The 11 remaining countries therefore reached an agreement to leave the way open for the United States to return to the originally 12-nation trade pact.

"The ministers tasked their senior trade officials to engage to take forward the preparation" of assessments of options to achieve a comprehensive and high-quality deal, a statement released after their meeting in Hanoi said.

They aim to finish the work before they meet on the margins of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Vietnam in November.

Japan has been eager to implement the high-level rules agreed on by the original 12 TPP member countries, even though Washington withdrew in January as President Donald Trump sought to pursue bilateral trade deals.

"I'm very satisfied" with the outcome, New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay, a co-chair of the gathering with his Vietnamese counterpart, told Kyodo News after the meeting, adding he is "grateful" for Japan's leadership.

McClay said it is possible to realize the "11 TPP", although "detailed work" is still required.

Japan's TPP minister Nobuteru Ishihara said at a press conference that chief negotiators from the 11 members will meet in Tokyo in July.

The 11 ministers, meanwhile, said in the statement that they "underlined their vision for the TPP to expand to include other economies that can accept the high standards of the TPP," promising to "address our concern about protectionism".

The ministers also agreed to study the creation of new procedures that would enable Washington to rejoin the free trade pact, saying in the statement that the options to be assessed include "how to facilitate membership for the original signatories."

Australia and New Zealand have aligned with Japan in promoting quick implementation of the deal without the United States. Canada and Mexico do not want to irritate President Donald Trump by joining the 11-nation TPP, as they face renegotiating the trilateral North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, in the near future.

The one-day meeting of ministers from the 11 TPP members was held on the sidelines of the APEC forum.

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