A TPP 11 May Become a TPP 10 as Vietnam Weighs the Deal’s Worth

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership’s tenuous position in the world of trade deals doesn’t seem to have solidified much.

Earlier in August, New Zealand trade minister Todd McClay said he had high hopes for a TPP 11 and that a decision on the deal could be made as soon as November. Now, some reports are saying Vietnam may want to follow the United States’ path out of the deal.

Had TPP proceeded as planned, as a 12-nation trade agreement, including the U.S., Vietnam was expected to reap the biggest gains from being afforded greater access to the U.S. market. But with the U.S. out since President Trump said so in January, TPP just isn’t as sweet for Vietnam.

“The deal for Vietnam was essentially they would implement difficult reforms on state-owned enterprises and labor and other areas…in exchange for greater access to the U.S. market, particularly for textiles and footwear,” Matthew Goodman, a former Obama Administration official who now works for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Australian Associated Press. “Without that part of the deal, one might ask why Vietnam would be willing to move forward?”

Malaysia, it seems, has also had its doubts about remaining in on the deal.

Much remains up in the air concerning what’s to become of TPP, the Pacific-Rim trade deal that would have been the world’s largest, covering roughly 40 percent of global GDP, but Goodman said the U.S. could still be interested.

Goodman said he believes the U.S. has been quietly encouraging Australia and Japan to revive the deal and “keep the seat warm” for it to come back.

Using a golf analogy to drive the point home, Goodman told the Australian Associated Press, “A good golfer usually hits the ball straight and true but occasionally hits it into the bunker of the woods.” Continuing, he said, “But we’re still playing golf, we’re still good at it. We still have an interest in getting the little ball into the hole.”

Whatever the strategy, leaders from the TPP 11 will meet in Syndey, Australia early next week and have their hopes set on securing a deal and bringing it into force at the APEC Leaders meeting in Vietnam in November.

In other trade news, countries are continuing to cozy up to one another as the U.S. gives them the cold shoulder.

[Read more about how trade without the US: Trade Around Trump Infographic: The US May be Losing its Grip as Global Trade Leader]

Peru—which is part of the TPP 11—and Indonesia appear to be prepping for a trade deal on the heels of the U.S. withdrawal from TPP.

“We’re working on a very aggressive trade agenda, which includes probably in December the start of negotiations on a free trade agreement with Indonesia,” Reuters reported Peruvian trade minister Eduardo Ferreyros as saying at a press conference.

Peru’s “aggressive” plans for trade also include efforts to reduce trade barriers between Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Canada and the Pacific Alliance bloc including Peru, Mexico, Chile and Colombia. More bilateral deals are expected to be forthcoming.

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