Pacific trade pact members go on lookout for 'progressive' way forward

Updated: 2017-03-17 08:22

VINA DEL MAR, Chile-The remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are seeking a way forward for the trade pact, they said on Wednesday, as some emphasized the need for deals to address concerns about the environment and other issues.

The TPP, which originally covered some 40 percent of global gross domestic product, was effectively torpedoed in its current form when US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement in January.

The 12 members met for the first time since then on Wednesday, convened by Chile alongside China, South Korea, and Colombia, to try to thrash out a way forward on Asia-Pacific trade.

With the retreat of the United States, China appears to be the natural successor to lead those discussions, but an emphasis on getting a progressive deal that wins support from skeptical citizens could see nations in the Americas forging a different path.

"We are talking about free trade of a very high quality, with protection for investors, the environment, and labor rights," Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told reporters after the meeting.

"That is the primary criteria with which any negotiation that takes place will comply."

Consensus was growing that trade deals need to consider issues like the environment and labor rights, Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said on the sidelines.

"Around the table, the word 'progressive' appears more and more ... it is becoming part of what people would consider as a base in order to progress," he said.

China reiterated its wish to promote regional economic integration on Wednesday, saying the country is taking an open attitude toward regional free trade arrangements that concern it and where conditions are in place.

But Premier Li Keqiang told the media that China has no intention of exceeding its duties and stepping into arrangements in which its due role is not in place.

The premier made the remarks when asked whether China is to fill the United States' place to lead the TPP.

Previously, critics of the TPP have said it does not do enough to protect jobs, and US presidential candidates across the political spectrum promised to scrap it if elected.

Another way forward may be via Latin America's Pacific Alliance trade bloc. Its four nations said on Tuesday they would seek to expand by allowing associate membership as a precursor to trade talks.

New Zealand said in a statement on Wednesday that it expected to be one of the first to begin negotiations.

Trade officials from ex-TPP countries are now set to come up with a menu of options for ministers before they meet in May at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering in Vietnam.

Ministers wanted to continue with the "substance of the accord," Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz said.


Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349