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

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma