Politics, Economy, Americas, Asia - Pacific

Japan PM: TPP trade pact has no meaning without US

Shinzo Abe’s remark came before release of video in which Donald Trump says US will abandon deal when he takes office

Japan PM: TPP trade pact has no meaning without US


Japan's premier has warned that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement “has no meaning” without the United States amid concerns that the regional pact may be shot down by President-elect Donald Trump.

The Japanese government’s top spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters Tuesday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the deal “has no meaning without the United States -- the fundamental balance of benefits would collapse, and similarly renegotiating is impossible”.

Abe’s comments were made during a press conference held in Buenos Aires on Monday before the release of a video message in which Trump said the U.S. will abandon the TPP when he takes office Jan. 20.

"On trade, I'm going to issue a notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership," Trump said, describing the deal as a "potential disaster" for the U.S.

Under the terms of the agreement, if the U.S. -- the largest economy in the world -- opts out, the remaining countries cannot enforce the pact as 60 percent of the TPP's combined gross domestic product (GDP) comes from America.

"President-elect Trump has not yet taken office, and the government would like to refrain from commenting on each and every one of his remarks," Suga was quoted as saying Tuesday by Kyodo News.

"We want to continue to take various opportunities to call on the United States and the other signatory countries to quickly complete their domestic procedures," Suga said.

Earlier this month, the lower house of Japan’s parliament voted to ratify the TPP while deliberations are ongoing in the upper house regarding related bills.

Last week, Abe and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak -- who was paying a state visit to Japan -- reiterated their commitment to the TPP.

Malaysia's international trade and industry minister told Anadolu Agency on Monday that leaders of TPP member countries -- who met on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru last week -- have decided to wait and see what happens when Trump takes the presidential oath in January.

Mustapa Mohamed said that members still believe that Trump may reconsider and decide that the advantages of the TPP to the U.S. economy outweigh the disadvantages.

"His previous comments and statements on TPP might have been political campaign rhetoric," he said in a telephone conversation.

Under Chapter 30 of the TPP, member countries are given two years to ratify the pact in their respective legislative bodies from the February 2016 signing date.

If not ratified in the timeframe, the agreement could come into force after a minimum of six of the signatories, which made up 85 percent of the combined GDP in 2013, ratify and notify New Zealand as the depository.

On Feb. 4, trade ministers from 12 countries inked the TPP in New Zealand, paving the path for a freer movement of goods and services between member economies.

Member countries include the U.S, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei -- which represent more than 40 percent of the world’s GDP.

Although Obama -- who originally mooted the idea to mitigate China's rising influence in Pacific economies -- officially leaves office Jan. 20, 2017, his administration has said it will not ratify the agreement before Trump takes charge.

The U.S. was originally expected to sign off on the TPP in the three months following the election, but the agreement is now up in the air following Trump's victory.

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