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Asia-Pacific trade deal to go ahead without U.S.

Staff Writer |
Asia-Pacific trade ministers agreed to try to revive a massive free trade pact, even though the United States reaffirmed its decision to pull out, as fears grow of a new global era of protectionism.

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The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) covered 40% of the global economy before U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly abandoned it in January, to meet a campaign pledge to save American jobs which he says have been sucked up overseas.

Japan, Australia and New Zealand are leading efforts by the so-called TPP 11 to resuscitate the agreement, convinced it will lock in future free trade and strengthen labor rights and environmental protections.

After an early-morning huddle in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay told reporters that the TPP 11 “are committed to finding a way forward to deliver” the pact.

Trade representatives agreed to help the US to rejoin the deal at any time, pinning hopes on a U-turn in American policy.

Trump's newly appointed trade chief Robert Lighthizer, however, poured cold water on the prospect of a US return, saying Washington “pulled out of the TPP and it's not going to change that decision”.

“The TPP 11 can make their own decisions, the United States makes its decisions, that's what sovereign nations do,” Mr Lighthizer told reporters, adding that his nation will “stay engaged” in the area, albeit on a bilateral basis.

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