SYDNEY – The chief negotiators from the 11 remaining Trans-Pacific Partnership countries began three-day talks in Sydney on Monday to move forward implementation of the regional free trade pact following the United States’ withdrawal from the deal earlier this year.
The negotiators will be discussing whether to modify the original text of the agreement after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the country’s pullout from the TPP when he took office in January.
Trump has said the multilateral pact hurts American jobs and that he prefers bilateral trade negotiations.
Without the U.S., the future of the TPP has been left in a precarious state, but Japan, Australia and New Zealand are pushing for its implementation.
Last month Japan’s chief negotiator, Kazuyoshi Umemoto, met his counterparts at a hot spring resort southwest of Tokyo and agreed to work toward putting the trade deal into force under a new framework.
Australian trade minister Steven Ciobo said in a statement issued Sunday that there is a “broad desire” among the countries “to reach a good agreement.”
“Leaders from TPP countries will discuss the progress of bringing the deal into force” at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Vietnam in November, Ciobo said.
The TPP was signed in February 2016 by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States — covering around 40 percent of the global economy.
The countries remain divided on issues such as how far the original text should be revised.