The country looks set to move on a plan to push the Trans Pacific Partnership forward with its 11 remaining members, an unnamed source told the Japan Times. The trade pact’s remaining members are expected to start talks on the issue at a meeting of chief negotiators in Canada early next month.
Tokyo had originally been hesitant to have the TPP take effect sans U.S. as it was concerned doing so wouldn’t do Japanese exporters—especially automakers—any favors. But ever since U.S. President Trump took office, pulled the U.S. from the deal, and proceeded with what’s being seen as protectionist rhetoric, Japan appears to be having thoughts of settling the TPP, U.S. or not.
“We have a feeling the 11-nation framework should be given weight,” Japan Times reported Japan chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga as saying in an interview on Saturday.
The one small problem, however, is that the deal can’t technically move forward without the U.S.
As part of TPP’s implementation stipulations, the agreement can’t take effect unless it’s ratified by countries making up 85 percent of the members’ collective gross domestic product. And with the U.S. making up more than 60 percent of TPP members’ total GDP, there’s little place for the 11 others to go if the rules remain as is.
Trump may not be entirely against the remaining nations—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam—going forward with TPP, and there’s a possibility of using a separate rule to lower the activation threshold to let the deal move forward sources told Japan Times.
Either way, it remains to be determined, but the topic could come up at a meeting Tuesday between Japanese deputy prime minister and finance minister Taro Aso, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.