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China's favoured trade deal in focus at Asian meeting

China's favoured trade deal in focus at Asian meeting

Attending a meeting of ministers from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries in Vietnam, Lighthizer said that the US favors bilateral over multicultural trade deals, Reuters reported.

Champagne also met last Sunday with the 11 remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal that Trump withdrew the United States from in one of his first acts as president.

Lighthizer and Japan's economy minister, Hiroshige Seko, agreed on strengthening bilateral trade and removing barriers, a statement from the USA trade representative said.

"TPP-11 can make their own decisions and the United States makes its decision, but we expect to stay engaged and I believe at some point there will be a series of bilateral agreements with partners in this part of the world", Lighthizer told a news conference.

Mr Seko met this weekend in Hanoi with new US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and said the two agreed to build on the Japan-US economic dialogue agreed to months ago by their leaders.

In a pushback against the Trump administration's protectionist rhetoric, 11 nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal have agreed on Sunday to proceed without the U.S.

He said the door remains open to the US, even after President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact in January, saying he prefers bilateral free trade deals.

When asked about the disagreements over the language, Lighthizer said that US steps to create free and fair trade were being confused with protectionism.

The Asian and Pacific countries moved forward with the Trans-Pacific partnership (TPP), despite America's exit.

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A copy of edits to the draft statement seen by Reuters showed that the us wanted to remove a reference to "reaffirm our commitment to achieving free and open trade" and another to the benefits of globalization.

He said the remaining nations had continued interests in pursuing the trade pact but cautioned that the next steps must safeguard balanced and harmonized benefits of all participating countries. We are still an enormous exporter to this area [and] we are enormous importer from this area.

Even though Japan, Australia and New Zealand have pushed to effectuate the TPP at an early stage with 11 countries excluding the United States, the joint statement did not clarify whether the TPP will be put into early effectuation by 11 countries, or by 12 countries including the United States.

Trade ministers pose for a photo during the 3rd Inter-sessional Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam May 22, 2017.

Twelve countries that border the Pacific Ocean signed up to the TPP in February 2016, representing 40 per cent of the global economy.

But the remaining nations - the so-called TPP 11 - have options. They also emphasized that they would work on ways to allow the United States to rejoin the group, as well as providing the scope for other countries to join.

Canada and 10 other countries agreed this weekend to re-evaluate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the controversial trade deal that has been assumed dead since the USA pulled out in January.

But China also has its own trade pact - the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) - now under negotiation. It is expected to be finalized by the end of this year.

"The Chinese would not be particularly pleased to see the TPP go ahead even without the United States", said Capri, a senior fellow and professor at the National University of Singapore.

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