Vietnam shelves TPP ratification

Women working at a tea factory producing black tea for export in Yen Bai province, Vietnam, on Aug 4, 2016.
Women working at a tea factory producing black tea for export in Yen Bai province, Vietnam, on Aug 4, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

HANOI • Vietnam will shelve ratification of a United States-led Pacific trade accord because of political changes in the US, but it wants to maintain good relations with Washington as it does with all countries, its Prime Minister said yesterday.

Vietnam's legislature was almost certain to ratify the 12nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreed last year but had deferred it until after the US presidential race, won by Republican Donald Trump, whose protectionist agenda on the campaign trail has unnerved Asian economies.

The TPP, the signature economic policy of President Barack Obama's Asia-Pacific rebalance, looks increasingly uncertain with a Republican Congress and an incoming president who has called the agreement a "disaster".

The TPP would be a boon for Vietnam's exports and manufacturing economy, which is receiving record foreign investment due to its numerous trade accords, cheap labour and relative stability.

"The US has announced it suspends the submission of TPP to the parliament, so there are not sufficient conditions for Vietnam to submit its proposal for ratification," Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told the legislature.


Post-US election responses by Asian countries on the TPP have varied, from Malaysia suggesting it will focus on a multi-nation trade pact led by China, to Japan seeking to stick with the TPP and push for ratification.

The TPP can come into force only if the US is part of it, as its economy represents about two-thirds of the combined gross domestic product of the 12 members. Some countries have begun the ratification process, including Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand.

"The party, the state are implementing a policy aimed at diversification and multilateral ties, considering all countries as friends," said Mr Phuc.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2016, with the headline 'Vietnam shelves TPP ratification'. Subscribe