The leaders were set to meet in the afternoon on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Vietnam to discuss how to push ahead with TPP, after the United States pulled out this year.
“Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)”, the group announced in a communique.
Asked whether the failure to reach a conclusion would prove terminal for the TPP, Ardern said it was too early to say but it was unclear where negotiations now Saturday. Trump has said he prefers country-to-country deals and is seeking to renegotiate several major trade agreements to, as he says, “put America First”.
The revisions required for the 11 remaining TPP countries to continue talks required a hard balance between high standards and pragmatism, said Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi.
“We got a lot of work done, but there is still more work to do”, Trudeau said.
But Abe’s talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lasted almost one hour, more than double the time initially scheduled, and the reason for the extension is believed to be connected with the difference in understanding about the results of the ministers’ meeting.
Trudeau held bilateral meetings earlier Friday with two of his TPP partners: the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Japan.
They are trying to find a way forward without the USA, the biggest economy and before Trump took office one of its most assertive supporters.
Mr Turnbull said he later had a “very good and frank discussion” with Mr Trudeau during which he stood up for Australia’s interests. Japan had said an agreement in principle had been reached, but Canada disputed that.
It’s understood Canada, the second largest economy in the TPP since the United States withdrew, had been in bilateral talks with Japan on role difference before Trudeau’s no show at the meeting. “We will continue to advocate for progressive trade agreements that recognize workers’ rights, the environment, and gender equality, while standing up for Canadians and Canadian jobs”.
Global trade expert Stephen Hoadley said RCEP is a much looser arrangement that needs a lot more work than the TPP.
“We had five issues of concern… the first was that the Government had to be able to preserve land asset classes like housing, without being forced to leave them open to overseas buyers”. That proves free trade agreements aren’t the be-all and end-all for exports. The ministers also said they would work to improve the functioning of the World Trade Organisation – which Trump criticised in Friday’s speech.
“I would like to thank President Trần Đại Quang for hosting a successful and productive APEC Leaders’ Meeting”.