TPP countries agree to move ahead with trade pact without US

National's Todd Mc Clay says TPP would be a big win for NZ exporters and trade liberalisation in general

Talks - often heated - have been held on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in the Vietnamese resort of Danang, where Trump and other leaders held their main meeting on Saturday. The Canadian team had planned it that way.

Mr Trudeau becomes the second leader, behind Donald Trump, to desert the Trans-Pacific Partnership - but unlike the United States President his motives and future intentions have not been publicly explained.

The Trudeau government, on the other hand, wanted to throw some sand in the gears.

But Trump added forceful complaints about "the audacious theft of intellectual property", "massive subsidizing of industries through colossal state-owned enterprises", and American companies being targeted by "state-affiliated actors for economic gain".

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, provided a peek behind the scenes of what followed during the TPP talks in Danang. And they knew they had some allies. China has resisted letting overseas firms have controlling stakes in the country, but experts said it's a critical step to allowing investment to flourish in that nation's tightly controlled economy.

In a joint statement early on Saturday, the trade ministers said they were "pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements" of the major trade deal, which aimed to slash tariffs across the Pacific region.

Trudeau credited improvements made by TPP trade ministers at the summit for agreeing to several changes that moved the talks closer to an agreement.

Under the original TPP, in order for a vehicle to enter Canada tariff-free, 45 per cent of it must have originated in a TPP member nation (auto parts themselves must have a regional content value of 35 to 45 per cent).

However, the Prime Minister told media on Saturday afternoon (NZT) negotiators had reconvened to make some progress, with Canada returning to talks.

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Trade ministers reconvened overnight while APEC leaders attended the traditional leaders' banquet, where Ardern said she exchanged pleasantries with Trump, including a "standard" handshake, a reference to the president's penchant for extended gripping with counterparts.

"What we have achieved today is identifying the areas where work needs to be done", Champagne said.

But the signing never happened, much to the chagrin of many an Asian country. He repeated his language from Thursday, when he said he did "not blame China" or any other country "for taking advantage of the United States on trade". The plan was to tell him where Canada was coming from.

The move prompted worldwide headlines because foreign media reports had predicted TPP partners would reach an agreement when they gathered for the APEC event in Danang.

Over the course of that meeting, Abe, the TPP meeting's co-chair, said he would have to postpone the event.

After they greeted each other inside their meeting room, Trudeau and Abe stood side by side and smiled for the news cameras.

The TPP countries are Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Staying away from the meeting wasn't a negotiating strategy, but it did yield results, the official claimed.

Partly to counter China's growing dominance in Asia, Japan had been lobbying hard for the TPP pact, which aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products across an11-nation bloc whose trade totalled $356 billion past year. "We went through it word by word, including the ministerial statement, and reached a consensus on the words, sentences and phrasing", he said.

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