Vietnam and Malaysia are a ‘sticking point’ in TPP discussions

By: Johanna Chisholm - Posted on: November 10, 2017 | Current Affairs

Japan was keen to say things were moving ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but Canada was quick to take to Twitter to quash these rumours 

Vietnamese Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh chairs the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting during the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (APEC) in Da Nang, Vietnam Na Son Nguyen/EPA

Initial reports from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit that were released this morning saying that an agreement had been reached about how to proceed with the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have since been refuted by the Canadian trade minister.

“Despite reports, there is no agreement in principle on TPP,” said Francois-Philippe Champagne in a tweet.

The TPP (also referred to as TPP-11) represents an amended version to the trade agreement that came into fruition as a US-led initiative, but was later dropped by US President Trump back in January.

 

Trade ministers are convening at the annual APEC summit in Vietnam this week and have been using this ripe opportunity to hassle over the details of the TPP pact, as all of the remaining members of the original deal are currently in attendance.

Trump ran his 2016 campaign with the intent to pull out of the TPP agreement, an initiative that his predecessor, Barack Obama, and his opponent, Hillary Clinton, had invested a large portion of the previous administration’s resources in getting off its feet.

Canada, Japan and Australia were some of the most vocal critics of the US’s move to pull out, especially since they stood to benefit the most from the world’s largest market staying in the deal.

Japan, one of the countries fighting to resuscitate the derailed deal, was the first one to report that the discussions between the ministers had been profitable.

“We reached an agreement that has a high level of standard which also strikes a good balance,” said a minister representing Japan to AFP.

The breakthrough that Japan is keen to see happen is one that remains to be hammered out at the discussion table, as countries like Canada don’t see themselves sacrificing the ‘gold standard’ they were promised in the deal’s conception.

Countries like Vietnam and Malaysia are specifically proving to be a sticking point for the commonwealth country, as they are rejecting the deal’s measures to enforce labour rights in their respective countries.

Environmental protection, intellectual property and governmental procurement were other regulatory standards that the deal also promises to improve.

The TPP is an agreement that would allow countries that have a coast bordering the Pacific ocean to reduce a number of non-tariff measures.

This idea of increased free trade throws in the face of Trump’s ‘America first’ policy, a slogan that helped to secure him a dedicated following within his far-right base last November.