Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Japan, VN urge the US to rejoin Pacific trade deal

Japan, VN urge the US to rejoin Pacific trade deal

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Borge Brende, President of World Ecomomic Forum delivers his address during the closing ceremony of the World Economic Forum on Asean at the National Convention Center in Hanoi on Thursday. YE AUNG THU/AFP

Japan, VN urge the US to rejoin Pacific trade deal

Japan and Vietnam on Thursday urged the United States to rejoin a sprawling Pacific trade deal, almost two years after President Donald Trump’s withdrawal dealt a major blow to what would have been the world’s largest free trade pact.

Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal in one of his first post-election moves as part of his “America First” clarion call, declaring the 12-nation trade pact a “job killer”.

The 11 remaining countries have pledged to move ahead with the deal, which could go into effect by the end of this year, although in a significantly watered-down version.

They have kept a door open for Washington’s return, and have also not ruled out allowing other non-Pacific countries to join the deal.

Japan’s foreign minister on Thursday encouraged the US to come back to the pact, speaking at a regional World Economic Forum (WEF) where concerns over trade protectionism have dominated discussions.

“We believe TPP is still the best option for (the) United States,” Taro Kono said.

“It will be very attractive for American industries, American farmers to join it.”

Japan, the largest remaining economy in the TPP, has led the charge to keep it alive.

The newly rebranded deal, dubbed the CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) and which forms a market of 500 million people, could go into effect by the end of 2018, Kono added.

Vietnam’s foreign minister Pham Binh Minh echoed Kono’s appeal, calling the deal “a very high-standard agreement”.

Vietnam stood to be the biggest winner from US involvement before Trump’s withdrawal from the pact, which would have opened access to US markets for its cheap manufactured goods – from shoes and shirts to mobile phones and computer processors.

For smaller signatories like Vietnam, unfettered access to US markets was a major draw.

In its original iteration, the free trade bloc would have made up 38 percent of the global economy. Today, the remaining signatories comprise about 13.5 per cent.

Japan and Vietnam’s comments come after Trump said in April the US could re-enter the agreement if it was a “better” deal.

Leaders at this year’s regional WEF summit for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have railed against protectionism and called for breaking down trade barriers.

Trade in the region has grown at breakneck pace in the past decade, transforming some of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries into fast-growing export economies.

Earlier at the summit, which closes Thursday, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo compared trade disputes to “infinity wars” – a reference to the latest Avengers movie – vowing to fight protectionism.

“Not since the Great Depression of the 1930s have trade wars erupted with the intensity that they have today,” said the leader, who is seeking re-election next year.

“But rest assured I and my fellow avengers stand ready to prevent Thanos from wiping out half the world population,” he said, referring to the film’s villain.

MOST VIEWED

  • Archaeologists find ancient remnant

    A team from the Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a gatekeeper statue’s foot fragment at the Tonle Snguot Temple, within a metre of the toe of a statue found in 2017. ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on Wednesday that the fragment was

  • Hun Sen to the rescue

    Cambodia has won praise for allowing passengers of the MS Westerdam cruise ship to dock at Preah Sihanouk port, thanks to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s humanitarian act. In a message via Twitter on Wednesday, the director-general of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu

  • EU partially withdraws EBA

    The EU Commission on Wednesday announced the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, citing a serious and systematic violation by Cambodia of principles in the four core human and labour rights. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.08 billion) of Cambodia’s annual

  • Japan calls for policy changes

    Representatives of Japanese companies and investors on Wednesday submitted a list of policy recommendations to the government concerning 21 challenges to the Kingdom’s business climate. Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami and leaders of the Japanese Business Association in Cambodia (JBAC), Japan International Cooperation Agency

  • Trump tweets praise for Kingdom docking ship

    Cambodia continues to earn praise for its humanitarian act of allowing the MS Westerdam cruise ship with more than 2,200 passengers and crew on board to dock at the Preah Sihanouk port. The praise this time comes from none other than US President Donald Trump. “Thank

  • Hate worse than virus, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday criticised countries that have cancelled flights with China following the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), arguing that such moves amounted to discrimination against the Chinese. In a speech delivered during the groundbreaking ceremony for work on national roads 2