“The hardest part is over”
The earlier resistance from Canada raised doubt about the trade pace’s fate. A planned meeting of leaders of the 11 countries in the TPP to decide on its fate did not take place due to the absence of Canadian PM. However, until late in Nov 11, officials announced of the core agreement achieved after series of negotiation rounds.
Vietnam’s trade minister Tran Tuan Anh (left) and his Japan's counterpart in the news conference, Nov 11
“We have reached an agreement on a number of fundamental parts,” Vietnam’s trade minister, Tran Tuan Anh, told reporters in a news conference on Nov 11. But more work must be done so that leaders of the countries involved can endorse the trade deal. " However, we have overcome the hardest part”,Tuan Anh said.
The agreement, which still needs to be finalized, would now be called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), he said.
The new pact, after changes were made to the original TPP text, can take force 60 days after at least six signatories complete domestic procedures. In coming to the agreement, the 11 countries reached a consensus on suspending 20 clauses in the original 8,000-page-text — assuming United States stays out of the pact — including 11 on intellectual property.
Nicholas Chapman, PhD candidate (International University of Japan) told Hanoitimes
: “The new trade deal is highly important for several reasons. While details of the agreement are yet to emerge, certainly the new title implies that it will adopt progressive standards, such as those pertaining to environment and labour. CPTPP (or TPP-11) could set a new benchmark for progressive trade deals. This will show that trade liberalization can be more sustainable, inclusive, and innovative”,
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, Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer (University of New South Wales) said: “The TPP 11 represents a multilateral trade arrangement that is WTO Plus. In other words it complies with existing requirements plus higher standards in services, protection of intellectual property right, environmental and labour concerns. The more advanced members of the the deal favour this approach while the developing members must make sacrifices to gain advantage. Like a sport coach telling his players “no gain without pain.”
According to Nicholas, eleven Pacific Rim nations seem to have taken heed to some of the criticisms of the original TPP and free-trade agreements in general. By making this agreement more progressive in nature they will counteract the rise of protectionist, anti-globalist agenda, most vocally voiced by Donald Trump.
Geopolitically speaking the new trade deal will provide a counterweight - albeit a significantly lighter counterweight without the US - to China's growing economic and political influence in the Asia-Pacific region. It will give CPTPP members more bargaining power in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations as well as Canada and Mexico who look set to have to renegotiate NAFTA, he said.
US can still join the game?
On the other hand, Japan’s long term hope is that United States will come back to the fold. Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Saturday news conference said he hoped that moving ahead with the deal would be a step towards bringing back the United States.
As the biggest economy amongst the TPP-11, Japan has skilfully demonstrated itself as a major leader in the Asia Pacific by being an outspoken supporter of TPP-11, lobbying members of the original agreement, and hosting negotiations. This has obviously paid dividends with the core agreement being reached. “Although it is hard to imagine Trump reversing a key campaign promise, certainly Abe’s strong relationship can open up pathways for potential negotiations for the US to re-join”, Mr Nicholas said.