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Trans Tasman's Political Pulse - 18 May, 2017

Trans Tasman's Political Pulse - 18 May, 2017

Raising The TPP From The Grave
INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NEWS - Prime Minister Bill English’s trip to Japan this week is intended to find an alternative path to lock in some of the gains once promised by the Trans-Pacic Partnership trade deal.

NZ, like Japan, has ratified the deal and both are keen to revive it in some form. Since the US withdrawal, Trade Minister Todd McClay has met the leaders of several partner nations to discuss alternative ways forward.

TPP Trade Ministers will all be at the upcoming APEC Trade Ministers’ meeting in Vietnam. There, as the Economist puts it, the partners will “bet on TPP confounding the undertakers and rising from the dead.”

The key to the revival has been the diplomacy of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe who seized the initiative once he had gained Donald Trump’s grudging approval during their meeting in February to continue to advance “regional progress on the basis of existing initiatives.”

Japan’s biggest concern, given its reliance on US security, is not to be seen to be anti-Trump. With Japan’s leadership, the Hanoi conference on the sidelines of APEC could set the work programme and timetable to bring the pact into force. Vietnam, which was deeply disappointed its garment and footwear industries would not gain access to the US market, has swung around to accept the gains from TPP could be large, even without the US.

NZ as a champion of open trade has assumed a crucial role, with McClay due to co-chair the Hanoi meeting. Even without the US, the gains for the remaining 11 members are substantial. For NZ, lower tariffs on key exports to the Japanese market would be a significant gain. The remaining countries are NZ, Australia, Japan, Chile, Brunei, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, Malaysia and Peru.

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