VINA DEL MAR, CHILE – Ministers of Japan and 10 other Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement members on Wednesday confirmed the significance of the deal, while expressing concern about rising protectionism around the world.
It was the first ministerial meeting among TPP members since U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP in late January.
The ministers said in a joint statement issued after their one-day gathering in the central Chilean city of Vina del Mar that they “recalled the balanced outcome and the strategic and economic significance of the TPP.”
They also voiced their “concern with protectionism in many parts of the world” and “reiterated their firm commitment” to work together in keeping markets free and open, advancing regional economic integration and strengthening the rules-based international trading system.
However, they failed to reach consensus on whether to seek effectuation of the TPP without the United States. While Australia and New Zealand support the TPP’s entry into force among the 11 countries, Japan has indicated a wish for further talks and possibly encouraging the United States to return.
Host Chile’s Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz told reporters earlier that Santiago does not rule out talks also involving China, which is not an original member.
The ministers said they will meet again in May, when a trade ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum takes place.
Signed by 12 Pacific Rim countries in February last year, the TPP also involves Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.