Japanese Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Friday that countries including Canada had now agreed on a plan to move ahead with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, but Canadian officials did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
His decision Friday to keep negotiating for a better deal in the 11-country pact rather than striking an agreement led to the abrupt cancellation of a TPP leaders' meeting on the sidelines of a summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation. "They said they had gained consent from the top leader".
International Trade Minister François-Philippe Champagne made an 11th hour visit to the hotel of Canadian reporters in Vietnam late Friday to tout the progress made on TPP despite the cancelled leaders meeting.
After the meeting, Trudeau and Abe were supposed to walk a short distance to a scheduled TPP leaders' meeting.
But the chances of bringing Washington back to the pact, originally signed by all 12 countries in February 2016, look slim given U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" mantra, which is leading him on a quest for bilateral deals with countries running large trade surpluses with the United States.
The 11 counties remaining in the trade pact rejected by Trump in January have been working to revise the deal to allow them to proceed without US involvement.
"I'm very confident. And I know my counterparts in the 10 other countries, we all feel that we can accommodate the various questions that are outstanding". "Our continued involvement in the CPTPP is a testament of Malaysia's commitment to globalisation and multilateralism", Mustapa said.
Trudeau said Saturday in Vietnam that despite some significant progress on the deal's framework there's still more work to be done, particularly when it comes to protecting Canada's auto and cultural sectors.
It said a "limited set of provisions" from the original deal would be suspended.
The TPP aims to eliminate tariffs on industrial and farm products across a bloc whose trade totalled $356 billion a year ago.
Canadian media reported a defensive stance from Trudeau's contingent, who sought to characterise the no-show as a "misunderstanding" about the schedule and the intention to try to conclude a way forward on TPP at Da Nang.
The pullout of the United States came as a shock to the other 11 members, given that the Pacific Rim deal was a landmark pillar of Trump's predecessor Barack Obama's policy of a strategic rebalance, or "pivot", to the Asia-Pacific region and had significance not only economically but in security aspects amid the rise of China.
In contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping told the same group that nations need to stay committed to economic openness or risk being left behind. Under the original TPP, in order for a vehicle to enter Canada tariff-free, 45 per cent of it must have originated in a TPP member nation (auto parts themselves must have a regional content value of 35 to 45 per cent).
At this stage there's no meeting of all 11 leaders planned for Saturday.
Later, leaders of the 21 Apec economies agreed to address "unfair trade practices" and called for the removal of "market distorting subsidies", in contrast to communiques they have issued in the past.
"We have witnessed changes more rapid and complex than we expect", he said in opening remarks.
At the start of the meeting, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang noted Apec's success in removing barriers to trade - as well as the new uncertainty in the world.