Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

TPP talks with Japanese PM much better than expected says English

Prime Minister Bill English and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after talks today in Tokyo. Photo/Supplied
Prime Minister Bill English and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after talks today in Tokyo. Photo/Supplied

Prime Minister Bill English said his talks on the TPP with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe went better than he expected and they will both be pushing for early implementation of the agreement.

"We are very pleased with the outcome of the discussions," he said today.
"I think we got better than I had expected."

Prime Minister Abe was committed to implementing TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement) on its current timetable, which meant during the first half of next year.

"So that gives a bit of a sense of urgency," said English.

Trade officials will be asked to work on an implementation plan at a Trade Ministers' meeting in Vietnam next week, which Trade Minister Todd McClay will co-chair.

He said Japan and New Zealand shared common principles not only around free trade and open investment "but also the strategic need for stability in the region."

"And clearly he sees Japan as playing a leadership role so that is why we have ended up with New Zealand and Japan standing together on this, generating the momentum to bring others along to implement it."

Both leaders were agreed that if they were to implement it to a reasonable timetable, they would have to do so with the current text, which was negotiated when the United States was a party to the deal.

President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States, leaving the other 11 countries to decide if they want to persist with the pact.

English said that he believed there could be no question of renegotiating the text, other than some technical change to allow implementation without the US.

New Zealand would have preferences on how the text could be better.

"But everyone will come to see that getting it implemented can happen only if there isn't a renegotiation."

He said other political parties in New Zealand would have to say what their position was on TPP without the US in the run-up to the September election.

All parties other than National, Act and United Future opposed legislation required for the deal.

"We have worked hard to generate the momentum around it," said English.

"Japan is showing clear leadership as the largest remaining economy and that gives it a pretty good chance."

New Zealand and Japan are the only countries which have ratified the deal.

The other countries in the Trans Pacific Partnership beside News Zealand and Japan are Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

After his talks in Tokyo, English headed to Sapporo in the northern island of Hokkaido.

Tomorrow he will spend the day in Hong Kong.

- NZ Herald

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