TOKYO Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his New Zealand counterpart, Bill English, on Wednesday said they would work together to bring to fruition the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), even after the United States ditched the free trade pact.
Ministers from Japan and New Zealand are among the remaining pact members gathering in Hanoi this weekend to find ways to revive the agreement after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew in favor of pursuing bilateral talks.
"As the flagbearers of free trade, we will maintain close cooperation and aim at early realization of TPP," Abe told a joint news conference following a summit with English.
TPP rules have to be changed so it can take effect without U.S. participation, but Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso last month said Tokyo would not rule out the option of negotiating such a deal.
"At this time of international uncertainty, it's more important than ever for outward-looking trading countries like New Zealand and Japan to state their principles clearly," said English, urging commitment to international trade and regional economic integration.
"I'm very pleased that New Zealand stands alongside Japan, taking this important regional agreement forward."
For the TPP to take effect without the United States it would have to drop a rule requiring ratification by at least six countries accounting for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the original 12 member nations.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)