Japan, New Zealand affirm commitment to future of TPP


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his New Zealand counterpart, Bill English, on Wednesday said they would work together to bring to fruition the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), even after the United States ditched the free trade pact.

"We are very pleased with the outcome of the discussions", he said today.

"Every country has got some issues where it would like to renegotiate, and so we don't believe it's a good path forward", he said.

Prime Minister Bill English and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after talks today in Tokyo.

He added that he came to Tokyo to deliver President Moon's intention to build forward-looking relations with Japan and his wish to meet the Japanese leader "at the earliest date" and "frequently".

Trade Minister Todd McClay says the USA and others not in the TPP will benefit from Pharmac concessions.

In a sign of hope for Japan, new U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will attend a meeting of trade ministers from the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries on Thursday and Friday in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

But Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey, a strong opponent of the TPP, this week said the existing text has "all the toxic rules the USA insisted on that undermine affordable medicines, grant foreign investors special rights to enforce offshore, prohibit requirements for data to be held onshore, and more".

"Prime Minister Abe is committed to implementing the TPP on the timetable it's on".

On regional issues, in a veiled caution to China, Abe and English called on parties to territorial disputes in the South China Sea to settle them in light of a 2016 ruling by an global arbitral tribunal.

"If TPP was to go ahead in its current form they and other countries who aren't part of TPP as it was originally written would find some benefit", McClay said.

Since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal Japan has shown signs it would back a renewed agreement, giving hope to Australia and New Zealand, which support an Asia-Pacific trade pact.