Several Asia-Pacific countries on Tuesday renewed their support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, suggesting the 12-nation free trade pact still has merits despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from it.
The leaders of Australia and New Zealand both said the TPP still has value, while Singapore said it will discuss the fate of the pact with other members and Malaysia warned that if the deal fails to materialize, it will focus on an alternative — the China-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that excludes the United States.
The TPP was signed in February by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam, which together account for some 40 percent of the global economy.
Calling trade “critical” to his country, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged that “losing the United States from the TPP is a big loss.”
Turnbull added, however, that he had discussed the situation with the leaders of Japan, New Zealand and Singapore, and “all of us are working to see how we can ensure we maintain this momentum towards open markets and free trade.”
He suggested the U.S. government’s policy on the TPP “could change over time” and held out the prospect of China joining the TPP in the future.