Abe says Trans-Pacific Partnership hasn't lost momentum, but considering bilateral trade pact with US

Mr Abe urged global policymakers not to view trade as a "zero-sum" game, but instead seek to remove barriers that hamper innovation from crossing borders.
Mr Abe urged global policymakers not to view trade as a "zero-sum" game, but instead seek to remove barriers that hamper innovation from crossing borders. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's conviction that a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact will help bring prosperity to the Asia-Pacific region is unaltered, he said on Tuesday (May 16).

After US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 12-nation pact, Japan has been exploring options to revive the pact without the United States, hoping it can eventually convince Mr Trump to reconsider.

Negotiators from the remaining 11 members have sought ways to resuscitate talks and deepen economic ties without a United States that appears increasingly suspicious of multilateral deals.

Mr Abe urged global policymakers not to view trade as a "zero-sum" game, but instead seek to remove barriers that hamper innovation from crossing borders.

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"I don't think TPP is losing momentum," Mr Abe said at a seminar hosted by the Wall Street Journal newspaper in the Japanese capital. "Japan wants to exert leadership so that we can steer the debate toward a clear direction at a ministerial meeting in Hanoi."

However, Mr Abe said he did not rule out the chance of signing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, an option Washington favours.

"It's among the various options available for Japan," he added. "But we need to discuss more what's best for Japan."

In a sign of hope for Japan, new US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will attend a meeting of trade ministers from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries on Thursday (May 18) and Friday (May 19) in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

Many TPP signatories are expected to attend.

Japan's economic revival continues to be Mr Abe's top policy priority, he added.

"We're unwavering in standing ready to continue deploying the three arrows of fiscal, monetary and structural measures" to end deflation, Mr Abe said.