LIMA – Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski told Russian media that Pacific-rim countries can forge a new trade deal that includes China to replace the U.S.-led TPP that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to scrap.
Kuczynski, speaking to Russia Today in an videotaped interview posted on the state-funded broadcaster’s website Friday, said Russia should also be part of any new bid to hammer out a tariff-slashing agreement for the Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. President Barack Obama had framed the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership, which excludes China and Russia, as a way for Washington to set trade rules for the fast-growing Pacific-rim region before Beijing does, part of his “pivot to Asia.”
Written so it cannot be implemented without the United States, the TPP appeared dead this week following Trump’s surprise victory and promises from Republican congressional leaders to defer to him on trade policy.
“It can be replaced with a similar deal, but without the United States,” Kuczynski, a fervent free-trade supporter said in the Russia Today interview. “I think it’d be best to have an Asia-Pacific deal that includes China, and includes Russia as well . . . it’d have to be a new negotiation.”
The comments came ahead of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that Peru will host next week in the first event to bring together heads of state from China, Russia, the United States and Japan, following Trump’s unexpected election.
China, leading talks on a deal seen as an alternative to the TPP — the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — said this week that the Pacific-rim area needs a free trade deal as soon as possible and that it would seek support for one during the summit in Lima.
Kuczynski, a 78-year-old former Wall Street banker who lived in the United States so long he once held citizenship, repeated his criticism of Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and vowed to oppose it in the United Nations.
“The Berlin Wall lasted 40 years . . . why do we want another wall?” Kuczynski asked, adding that Trump could trigger a “terrible crisis” in Mexico if he discourages trade between the two countries. “In Latin America we must show solidarity.”
Trump has said a new border wall would stem the flow of undocumented migrants and drugs from Mexico. He has called the TPP a “death blow” for manufacturing jobs and made his opposition to it a cornerstone of his campaign.