Canada's PM Justin Trudeau sabotages TPP, shocking leaders

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to show-up at a meeting that was set to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Photo: AP
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to show-up at a meeting that was set to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. Photo: AP

Danang Vietnam: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sabotaged a pact to salvage a multibillion-dollar, 11-nation Pacific Rim trade deal at the last minute, surprising leaders of the other nations, including Australia's Malcolm Turnbull.

Mr Trudeau failed to show up at a meeting late on Friday that was set to officially revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that had been negotiated on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the Vietnamese coastal city of Danang.

"There were a lot of unhappy leaders left sitting there," said an official who was in the meeting.

All 11 foreign ministers of the grouping had agreed on Thursday night to revive the agreement that was rejected by US President Donald Trump days after he took office.

But Mr Trudeau raised issues at the last minute that forced Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is chair of the gathering, to announce the meeting had to be abandoned.

Mr Turnbull has been spruiking the benefits of the TPP since arriving in Danang on Thursday, telling an APEC leaders' reception the pact "creates rules of the road to match the new economic world in which we're living".

"It aims at old hidden trade barriers like corruption and new ones like data protectionism," he said.

"It works to level the playing field for non-state companies and is designed to defend and extend the freedom to explore, share and capitalise on new ideas."

Mr Turnbull said the pact would bring together economies with a collective GDP of about $US10 trillion.

"So that is a huge market," he said.

Mr Trudeau's walk-out is deeply embarrassing for Canada's Trade Minister Franois-Philippe Champagne, who has agreed to the deal.

Officials expected that the leaders would simply rubber-stamp what had already been agreed by the trade ministers, despite the agreement being unpopular in Canada.

Australia's Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said it was disappointing the leaders' meeting had to be cancelled.

He said what the trade ministers had agreed on was a "very high quality deal, one that maintained high standards and would have seen benefits flowing to the countries".

Mr Ciobo said despite the set-back the 10 other countries will need to consider the issues raised by Canada.

But no further negotiations or meetings are planned.

The agreement negotiated over more than a year would deliver 19 new free trade agreements among the 11 countries.

For Australia the pact would open new trade agreements with Canada and Mexico and provide greater market access to Japan, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei.

The countries account for almost one quarter of Australia's exports of goods and services.

Backed by Australia, Japan has lobbied hard to proceed with the pact that is seen as a way to counter China's regional dominance.

Mr Turnbull met Mr Trudeau on the sidelines of the summit late on Friday night, a few hours after the walk-out. Officials portrayed the meeting as a "frank conversation between friends that clearly expressed Australia's disappointment."

Joseph Pickerill, director of communications for Mr Trudeau, contacted Fairfax Media, saying he wanted to provide information that may "soften the headline".

"We're here to be constructive but also work towards a deal that delivers for Canadians," he said, adding TPP negotiations were continuing.

This story Canada's PM Justin Trudeau sabotages TPP, shocking leaders first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.