(Reuters) – Talks on pushing ahead the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal without the United States reached a critical point on Thursday as ministers from the 11 countries discussed a proposed agreement in principle.
Talks on the TPP, ditched by U.S. President Donald Trump in one of his first acts in office, have been held on the sidelines of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in the Vietnamese resort of Danang.
Clear agreement on proceeding without the United States would be a boost for the principle of multilateral free trade pacts over the bilateral deal-making that Trump favours.
But while Japan has been lobbying hard for a quick agreement to move ahead, Canada, New Zealand and Malaysia are among countries that have appeared less enthusiastic to hurry.
“We have collectively reached the stage where we can discuss a proposal for a final package for an agreement in principle of the TPP,” Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told ministers from the other countries.