Japan, Australia and nine other countries plan to relax the conditions required to bring the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement into force, several sources close to the negotiations told The Yomiuri Shimbun.
Negotiators are considering dropping provisions related to gross domestic product, the sources said. With the United States abandoning the accord, negotiators appear hopeful that changing the conditions will allow the remaining 11 nations to quickly implement a new pact.
A final decision is expected to be made at a meeting of ministers scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Vietnam.
Negotiators are discussing the idea of making ratification by six nations — a majority — the number needed for the accord to go into effect, the sources said.
The TPP signed by the 11 nations plus the United States in 2016 states that the accord will go into effect after it is ratified by six nations that comprise at least 85 percent of the total GDP of the signatory countries. Yet because the GDP of the United States made up more than 60 percent of the 12-nation total, there are no prospects for the pact to be implemented in the current situation.
By eliminating these requirements in a new accord, negotiators are hoping a TPP that is agreed on by the 11 nations can come into effect soon.
In addition to the conditions to be relaxed, talks are proceeding toward an agreement to freeze some items that were included in the pact at the request of the United States.
Negotiators hope to announce a broad agreement Saturday at a summit meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, which will be attended by the heads of all 11 nations.
For a new accord to go into effect, a final agreement on a detailed statement of the pact would have to be reached and various procedures would have to be completed, including ratification by each nation’s legislature.
In Japan, the Diet would probably need to once again deliberate the relevant legislation.