The chief negotiators from the 11 remaining Trans-Pacific Partnership countries began Monday three days of talks in Sydney to advance the implementation of the regional free trade pact following the withdrawal of the United States.
Representatives from both the Japanese and Australian delegations shared their hopes for a speedy outcome to negotiations which have been on shaky ground since President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal in January, in order to pursue bilateral deals that adhere to his “America first” doctrine.
“When we see the emergence of protectionist tendencies in many parts of the world, it is very, very important for (these) 11 countries to maintain solidarity and unity,” Japanese chief negotiator Kazuyoshi Umemoto said.
Meeting host Australia declared a desire to finalize agreements ahead of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Vietnam in November, despite the complexities involved.
“We appreciate that…this is a challenging process and all of us have political sensitivities that we need to take into account,” said Australian chief negotiator Justin Brown. “I’m committed to working with all of you to reach a consensus that matches our collective interests.”
Over the next three days, negotiators will discuss how to modify the original text of the TPP agreement.
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