HANOI — Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and Japanese economy minister Toshimitsu Motegi agreed Tuesday to work together for the 11 remaining signatories of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact to strike a deal to implement the accord following the withdrawal of the United States.
“We agreed to closely coordinate and make final arrangements toward a broad agreement,” the minister in charge of the TPP trade negotiations for Japan said in Hanoi after his talks with Quang.
The two met ahead of a planned gathering of the 11 TPP nations on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial and summit meetings to be held in the central Vietnamese city of Danang from Wednesday. Japan and Vietnam will co-chair the TPP meeting.
The 11 states aim to salvage the pact without the world’s biggest economy by reaching a broad agreement in Vietnam. They plan to freeze the implementation of some clauses introduced at the request of the United States.
But Vietnam’s request to review and freeze some parts of the TPP pact, such as rules for tariff cuts on apparel products the country exports, has been one of the factors that have complicated the negotiations, with other members opposing the idea.
The Japanese government hopes Vietnam will compromise on the issue so that the two countries can work in tandem as co-chairs of the meeting toward the swift implementation of the TPP.
The TPP was signed in February 2016 by the United States and 11 other countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
But U.S. President Donald Trump announced his country’s withdrawal after taking office in January this year, saying Americans would lose jobs if Washington joins the multilateral free trade deal and that he prefers to pursue bilateral trade agreements.
With the United States, the Pacific Rim trade pact covered around 40 percent of the global economy.