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FILE PHOTO: Trade ministers and delegates from the remaining members of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) attend the TPP Ministerial Meeting during the APEC 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Na Son Nguyen/Pool

(reuters_tickers)

By Kaori Kaneko and Takashi Umekawa

TOKYO (Reuters) - Eleven countries aiming to forge a new Asia-Pacific trade pact after the United States pulled out of an earlier version will hold a signing ceremony in Chile in March, Japan's economy minister said on Tuesday in a big win for Tokyo.

Trade officials from the 11 countries had been meeting in Tokyo to try to resolve rifts including Canada's insistence on protection of its cultural industries such as movies, TV and music.

An agreement is a huge plus for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, which has been lobbying hard to save the pact, originally called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the original 12-nation trade agreement last year.

Abe has painted the deal as a spur to growth and reform in Japan and a symbol of commitment to free and multilateral trade at a time when Trump is stressing "America First" policies.

Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said that the new agreement, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTTP), or TPP-11, would be an "engine to overcome protectionism" emerging in parts of the world.

He also said Japan would explain the importance of the deal to Washington in hopes of persuading it to join.

Ministers from the 11 countries including Japan, Australia and Canada had agreed in November on core elements to move ahead without the United States, but demands by countries including Canada for measures to ensure the deal protects jobs have been a sticking point to finalising the agreement.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also said last week that the new agreement would leave a door open for eventual U.S. participation.

(Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Reuters