The U.S. may be out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead.
Galvanized by a need to band together against other trade pacts and a desire to preserve the time, effort and intentions that went into the trade agreement, the 12 TPP countries plus China and South Korea are convening in Chile this week, according to Reuters.
The group will meet to discuss a path forward after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal as one of his first executive orders. TPP would have eased free trade among the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations, which account for approximately 40 percent of global trade.
Trump’s action followed his “America First” campaign kill any deals he deemed unfair, including TPP and possibly the North American Free Trade Agreement. While the posturing over NAFTA continues, the President has expressed interest in simpler, bilateral agreements that he calls free and fair.
Though the U.S. will be represented at the meeting, the attendee will be the ambassador to Chile rather than the U.S. Trade Representative, who is awaiting confirmation, or another trade official.
It’s not known whether TPP can be salvaged without U.S. involvement. But the countries represented could discuss shoring up other deals with the best parts of TPP in mind.
“The TPP without the United States is very difficult to do, but we can rescue some of the very important things,” Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, told the Wall Street Journal.
Rather than forge ahead with separate deals, some members of the group may simply be hoping that if they’re able to keep momentum going on the deal, it will survive long enough to wait out the current political climate in the U.S.
Though China’s envoy to Latin America will be in attendance, the country’s spokesperson says the media has miss characterized its intentions.
“The meeting is not as some media have said a TPP meeting,” said Hua Chunying during a press briefing, adding that it’s a brainstorming event related to the Asia Pacific region in general. “When it comes to TPP, China’s position has not changed.”
Some U.S. government officials may have hopes of their own for this meeting, according to Akira Amari, former Japanese cabinet member. They think that a “TPP minus one” deal could be enough to incite businesses to lobby the U.S. government into reconsidering participation in the pact, The Japan Times reported.