Vietnamese PM looks to entice US back into massive Pacific trade deal

By Staff reporters   November 22, 2017 | 08:57 pm PT
Vietnamese PM looks to entice US back into massive Pacific trade deal
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, right, shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe when Abe visited Vietnam in January. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
What will it take to convince President Trump to rejoin the TPP fold?

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said he would like the U.S. to reverse its decision to back out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement, and that Japan and Vietnam planned to call on the remaining member countries of the deal to lobby U.S. President Donald Trump.

Phuc told the Nikkei in a Thursday report that he wanted to urge Trump to rejoin the TPP in order to "secure other member states' and its own interests."

In January, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the TPP under his "America First" policy, which he believes will save American jobs, leaving the deal with 11 members, known as the TPP 11.

The Vietnamese PM said he had spoken with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe about ways to persuade Trump to rejoin the pact.

If the U.S. returns to the TPP, the deal would account for 37.5 percent of the world's gross domestic product, 11.3 percent of the global population and 25.7 percent of total trade, double to triple the figures of the TPP 11, he told the Nikkei.

According to Reuters, partly to counter China's growing dominance in Asia, Japan has been lobbying hard for the TPP, which aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products across the bloc where trade totaled $356 billion last year.

During a meeting held on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Vietnam’s coastal city of Da Nang between November 6 and 11, members of the TPP 11 agreed on the core elements to move ahead without the U.S.

They also decided to make some changes to the agreement, which still needs to be finalized, and give it a new name: the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said he hoped that moving ahead with the deal would be a step towards bringing back the U.S., Reuters reported on November 11.

In a speech in Da Nang, Trump sent out a strong message that he was only interested in bilateral deals in Asia that would not disadvantage the U.S.

The original TPP aimed to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products, deepen economic ties, boost growth of member nations and eventually create a new single market.

In the CPTPP, 20 provisions of the TPP have been suspended. Most of which were fought for by the U.S.

It still has identical schedules and commitments and includes major provisions, such as a new standard for intellectual property protection, the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) legal system which allows foreign investors to legally challenge host state regulations outside that country’s courts, and free movement of electronic information between bloc members.

Tran Toan Thang, a senior official from Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, told local media earlier this month that the TPP was expected to make Vietnam’s economy expand by 6.7 percent, increase its exports by 15 percent and raise imports by 10.5 percent.

These figures would drop to 1.3 percent, 4 percent and 3.8 percent with the CPTPP.

“Vietnam will also have access to countries it hasn’t established bilateral trade agreements with such as Canada, Mexico, Peru and Chile,” he said.

“The textile and garment industry will enjoy a major boost thanks to lowered tariffs.” 

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