One year after Donald Trump seemingly killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership by pulling the U.S. out of the deal, the remaining 11 countries have settled on terms and have set a date to sign the agreement.
The pact, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), is set to be signed on March 8 by the remaining countries—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
If that does happen, it will be the final chapter in TPP’s long history, which began as a way to curb China’s influence in Asia. The agreement stalled last year when the U.S. dropped out, and since then other nations like the UK have considered joining, while Vietnam hesitated and Canada threatened to walk. The final negotiations centered around Canada’s concerns about its cultural industries like movies and music, certain IP provisions and language related to the auto industry. Resolution came when the intellectual property provisions were dropped and the other concerns were ironed out via side pacts between Canada, Malaysia, Australia and Japan.
While his most recent move to slap tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels seems to indicated that Trump is sticking to his America First stance, some in the international community still hold out hope that the U.S. will have another change of heart with regards to TPP.
“Asia-Pacific is the part of the world where most of the global growth will be generated for years to come and the U.S. as a great trading economy surely will want to have the same advantageous access to those markets as we will have,” said Australian Finance Minister Mathias Cormann during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The Wall Street Journal also reports that Toshimitsu Motegi, the Japanese minister handling the talks, has similar sentiments.
[Read more about how Trump’s protectionist stance is affecting U.S. trade: Is the US Getting Left Behind on Trade?]
News of the CTPP resolution came as the latest round of North American Free Trade Agreement talks began. Though the United States, Canada and Mexico had originally planned to wrap up negotiations last year, things have dragged on and hope that any sort of agreement can be reached have begun to fizzle.
Canada recently filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization against the U.S. claiming unfair practices related to antidumping duties. Meanwhile, Trump is pushing for NAFTA to include provisions that will pay for his border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, something officials there say will not happen.
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