The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal would be “meaningless” without US participation, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said as United States President-elect Donald Trump announced he planned to quit the pact. PM Abe’s comment on Monday (Tuesday morning) came shortly before the Mr Trump released a short video about his plans for his administration, including an intention to have the US drop out of the TPP pact.
”I am going to issue a notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country,” Mr Trump said. “Instead, we will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores.”
Mr Abe spoke after attending a weekend meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders in Peru at which some said they might try to modify the 12-nation TPP pact to make it more appealing to Mr Trump or seek to implement it without the US.
But Mr Abe discounted the idea of going ahead without the US being a part of the deal. “TPP is meaningless without the United States,” he told a news conference during an official visit to Argentina.
He also said the pact couldn’t be renegotiated, adding: “This would disturb the fundamental balance of benefits.”
As Japan’s most powerful leader in a decade, Mr Abe had invested political capital in overcoming strong domestic opposition to the TPP, which Mr Trump has called “a disaster for jobs” in the US.
Mr Abe and the other 20 leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group closed their annual summit Sunday with a unified call to resist the protectionist sentiment highlighted by Mr Trump’s victory and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
The Japanese leader declined to comment on possible policies of the incoming Trump administration.
Last week, he became the first world leader to meet with Mr Trump since his election. Mr Abe, who was seeking reassurances over the future of US-Japan security and trade relations, described the meeting as “really, really cordial”, but he offered few details of their discussion.
There are growing concerns in Japan that Mr Trump might follow up his campaign rhetoric and demand that Tokyo pay more for the 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan under a security treaty. Japan pays about US$2 billion a year, about half of the non-personnel costs of stationing the US troops, while South Korea pays about US$860 million a year for about 28,000 American troops based there.