TPP's uncertain future - Australia

Canberra floats a recast pact without US

US President Donald Trump with an executive order withdrawing the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Monday. He declared that he had "terminated" it in line with election pledges to scrap
US President Donald Trump with an executive order withdrawing the country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Monday. He declared that he had "terminated" it in line with election pledges to scrap the "job killer" pact.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Several countries swung to making efforts to salvage the Trans-Pacific Partnership after President Donald Trump's decision to dump the pact left its future in doubt.

SYDNEY • Australia said it was working to recast the Trans-Pacific Partnership without the US and opened the door for China to sign up, after President Donald Trump ditched the huge trade pact.

The deal included a dozen Asia-Pacific nations which together account for 40 per cent of the global economy.

But Mr Trump declared on Monday he had "terminated" it in line with election pledges to scrap the "job killer" pact.

Canberra is floating a "TPP 12 minus one", with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull saying that his government was in "active discussions" with other signatories, including Japan, New Zealand and Singapore, on how to salvage the agreement.

"It is possible that US policy could change over time on this, as it has done on other trade deals," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra, adding that the nominee for US secretary of state, Mr Rex Tillerson, and Republicans supported the TPP.

"There is also the opportunity for the TPP to proceed without the United States," he added.

"Certainly there is the potential for China to join the TPP."

The agreement was seen as a counter to China's rising economic influence. It was signed last year, but has not gone into effect.

Beijing has chosen to back an alternative trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said Australia, Canada, Mexico and others had canvassed for a pact without the US at a World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Davos.

"There would be scope for China if we were able to reformulate it to be a TPP 12 minus one, for countries like Indonesia or China or, indeed, other countries to consider joining," Mr Ciobo told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"This is very much a live option."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2017, with the headline 'Canberra floats a recast pact without US'. Print Edition | Subscribe