TOKYO – The 11 member countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) began on Monday a new round of negotiations in Japan, seeking to reach an agreement ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in mid-November.
The meeting, which opened in Chiba, northeast of Tokyo, would continue until Nov. 1 with the aim of re-arranging various types of consensus following the withdrawal of the United States.
Japan has led the negotiations drive of the pact after the US pullout, and has called for the limitation of the changes should Washington decide to return to the negotiating table.
New Zealand has pushed for the talks to move forward, with the newly elected Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, calling for a revision of the agreement.
Ardern had assured that she would not sign a new agreement if it did not guarantee the viability of the country’s national policy against foreign investment in the real estate sector.
Member countries hope that the text of the new agreement will be presented at the APEC summit in Vietnam on Nov. 11-12, but request for further revisions might delay negotiations.
Washington’s withdrawal, following the arrival of President Donald Trump to the White House in January, led other members to raise more than 50 amendments to the clauses introduced by the US in the original text.
The TPP, an ambitious free trade agreement, sought to encompass 40 percent of the global GDP and was originally signed in February 2016 by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.
The agreement, which had been negotiated for more than six years, had to be ratified within a period of two years by at least six member countries whose combined GDP represented 85 percent of the total, but after the US exit – which alone accounts for 60 percent of the GDP of the 12 signatory states – it had become invalidated.