TPP talks without U.S. near final stretch ahead of APEC
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[November 01, 2017]
URAYASU, Japan (Reuters) - The
11 remaining nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without the
United States edged towards sealing a comprehensive free trade pact
after New Zealand agreed to amend laws that are not subject to TPP, to
enable its ban on foreign home purchases.
The pact aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products
across an 11-nation bloc whose trade totaled $356.3 billion last year.
This week's compromise saves member nations from having to renegotiate
the ambitious trade pact to accommodate the New Zealand government's
demands for firm measures to rein in housing prices.
It also brings member countries closer to an important victory in
support of free trade to be finalised at an Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation summit next week in Vietnam's central city of Danang.
"The momentum towards (an agreement) at the meeting in Danang has
significantly increased," said Japan's chief TPP negotiator, Kazuyoshi
"The economic impact is certainly not small, but the even bigger message
is this agreement can influence the global economic system and bring
about peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific."
Negotiators gathered for three days in Urayasu, east of the Japanese
capital, to narrow down which terms of the original 12-nation deal to
suspend, so as to salvage the pact at the Vietnam summit.
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A delegate walks past decoration during the APEC Ministers
Responsible For Trade (APEC MRT 23) meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam May
20, 2017. REUTERS/Kham
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who was sworn in last week, has
announced plans to ban foreign home purchases that should curb speculation
without forcing TPP countries to renegotiate the pact.
Japan hopes the deal, which links 11 countries with a combined GDP of $12.4
trillion, can show other nations it can champion free trade in the absence of
It could also help Japan resist U.S. pressure for a two-way trade pact, which is
likely to come up when President Donald Trump visits, from Sunday until Tuesday,
for a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
"A TPP agreement could damage the United States, so domestically people may
start to realize that they can't be left behind in free trade," said Kensuke
Yanagida, a research fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs.
The TPP pact was thrown into doubt when Trump pulled the United States out in
January to prioritize protecting jobs. New Zealand and Vietnam subsequently
pushed to renegotiate it, but countries have been able to narrow their
differences in the final stretch.
(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Stanley White; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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