November 12, 2016

from Asia.Nikkei Website








U.S. President Barack Obama will attend a meeting late next week in Peru with the leaders of 11 other member states of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal, the White House said Friday, despite strident TPP opponent Donald Trump winning Tuesday's presidential election.

Obama also plans to hold separate talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the Nov. 20 summit of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) in the Peru capital Lima, it said.

Speaking to reporters via conference call, Ben Rhodes, Obama's deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said he expects Obama to face inquiries about how Trump's election will affect such issues as,

  • Iran's nuclear deal

  • climate change

  • trade including the TPP,

...during his three-nation trip that will also take him to Greece and Germany.

"We certainly expect that the election will be the primary topic on people's minds everywhere we go," Rhodes said, referring to the Republican president-elect's threat during the campaign to scrap the nuclear deal with Tehran and pull Washington out of the TPP and the Paris Agreement to fight global warming.

"I think that will be more so the case, given the direction that the election took."

Asked about the TPP, Rhodes did not say how Obama will fulfill his pledge to push it through Congress before he leaves office in January, only saying,

"We're clear-eyed about the current situation, but we believe what we believe about the value of trade and the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the United States."

"And I think given its size and importance, it's going to have to continue to be a focus for the next president and Congress going forward no matter what," he said.

Wally Adeyemo, deputy national security adviser for international economics, told the conference call that it is now up to Trump and Republican congressional leaders to decide the future of the TPP, despite warning that failure of the deal would allow China, a non-TPP party, to write trade rules for the fast-growing region.

"In terms of the TPP agreement itself, Leader McConnell has spoken to that and it's something that he's going to work with the president-elect to figure out where they go in terms of trade agreements in the future," Adeyemo said.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dashed hopes that the TPP - the centerpiece of Obama's policy of strategic rebalance to Asia - would come up for a vote before the president's departure.

"It's certainly not going to be brought up this year," McConnell said, adding any decision on the TPP and other trade agreements would be up to Trump.

En route to Lima for the APEC summit, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to meet with Trump in New York on Thursday, as Abe is pushing for Japan's parliament to ratify the TPP as early as possible.



APEC groups the TPP members:

  • Australia

  • Brunei

  • Canada

  • Chile

  • Japan

  • Malaysia

  • Mexico

  • New Zealand

  • Peru

  • Singapore

  • the United States

  • Vietnam,

...and other Pacific-rim economies such as China.