TOKYO — Japan and New Zealand confirmed Monday they will aim to reach an agreement to move forward the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal by November among its signatories despite the withdrawal of the United States.
“What is important now is whether the (remaining) members can share a view about the future direction of the TPP … and we hope to make efforts to reach an agreement” by November when a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will be held in Vietnam, Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Nobuteru Ishihara told reporters after talks with New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay in Tokyo.
Japan and New Zealand are among the remaining 11 Pacific Rim countries pursuing the TPP even without U.S. involvement, but some countries, including Vietnam and Malaysia which hope to boost exports to the United States, are believed to be reluctant to put the TPP into force without the world’s biggest economy.
“It is extremely important that the 11 countries unite and be clear about the future of the TPP” despite the “differences in the ideas and motives of the member countries,” said Ishihara, who oversees TPP negotiations.
The two ministers met as representatives of the 11 states will try to narrow their differences at a TPP ministerial meeting, set to take place on Sunday in Hanoi alongside the APEC trade ministers’ meeting from Saturday, also to be held in the Vietnamese capital.
“The TPP meeting in Hanoi will be an important meeting as we look to discuss the direction of the TPP,” Ishihara said, adding that Japan and New Zealand will seek to “lead the discussion.”
New Zealand formally ratified the TPP deal Thursday, becoming the second signatory country to do so after Japan, which completed domestic ratification procedures last December.
The United States pulled out of the pact shortly following President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.