Talks to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact have effectively collapsed after Canada pulled out.
The talks have been postponed indefinitely.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the talks had collapsed in Vietnam on Friday night, revealing Canada had not shown up for the talks between the remaining 11 nations in the TPP.
“It is true that Canada did not attend that meeting and those talks have now been postponed. We have no update on when they are likely to convene,” Ardern said.
According to a Reuters report, Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said “a misunderstanding about the schedule” was to blame for the absence of Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
ABC reported that one official familiar with the situation said: “The Canadians screwed everybody”, and that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had walked into the meeting after a delay to announce that the planned signing of the deal would not proceed.
Ardern said Canada had withdrawn.
“We walked into a meeting and they were the only one absent.”
Discussions would not continue without Canada, she said.
Reuters later reported that the 11 nations participating have agreed on next steps to move ahead in a rescue deal scheduled to be announced on Saturday.
Ardern said she could not give a clear indication of Canada’s final position because they were not at the table to explain it.
She could not say whether the postponement was for days or weeks or longer and could not say which part of the pact Canada had issues with.
Ardern has a one-on-one meeting scheduled with Trudeau at the East Asia Summit in Manila, in the Philippines, starting on Sunday.
It’s understood Canada, the second largest economy in the TPP since the United States withdrew, had been in bilateral talks with Japan on role difference before Trudeau’s no show at the meeting.
Asked if TPP was now finished and had lost momentum, Ardern said that would be guess work.
“It’s difficult to say what position Canada will take from here. It’s a significantly different deal without Canada in it.”
She said New Zealand had gone into the talks to be constructive and had made some good gain and that it would be disappointing for New Zealand exporters.
“But we can’t control the decisions of other countries. No-one at that table could.”
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