Australia opens door to China in push to save TPP

25 January 2017 AFP, Sydney

Australia said Tuesday it hoped to recast the Trans-Pacific Partnership without the US and opened the door for China to sign up after President Donald Trump ditched the trade pact.
The deal included a dozen Asia-Pacific nations that together account for 40 percent of the global economy, but President Donald Trump said Monday he had "terminated" it in line with election pledges to can the "job killer" pact.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his government was in "active discussions" with other TPP countries, including his Japanese, New Zealand and Singaporean counterparts, on how to salvage the agreement.
"It is possible that US policy could change over time on this, as it has done on other trade deals," Turnbull told reporters in Canberra, adding that US secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson and Republicans supported the TPP.
"There is also the opportunity for the TPP to proceed without the United States," he added.
"Certainly there is the potential for China to join the TPP."
The agreement, signed last year, was seen as a counter to China's rising economic influence, but it has not gone into effect.
Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said Australia, Canada, Mexico and others had canvassed the concept of a "TPP 12 minus one"-the pact without the US-at a World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in Davos.
"There would be scope for China if we were able to reformulate it to be a TPP 12 minus one for countries like Indonesia or China or indeed other countries to consider joining," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
"This is very much a live option and we are pursuing it and it will be the focus of conversations for some time to come."
Japan ratified the deal last month but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a big supporter of the accord, has said without the US the TPP would not make sense.
Trump said he would pursue bilateral arrangements with the TPP signatories to find terms more favourable to the US.

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