US President-elect Donald Trump said last month that he would withdraw his country from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement on his first day in office but Singapore and Japan, both members of the trade group, are joining hands to try and keep the deal alive.
During a meeting between visiting Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, the two leaders vowed to strive for the early entry into force of the TPP even without the participation of the United States.
The duo’s efforts may be a long shot as Abe stated last month that “the TPP is meaningless without the United States”.
It is also going to be legally difficult as the TPP can only come into force when it is ratified by six countries which account for at least 85 percent of the group’s economic output. Without ratification by the US, whose economy makes up 60 percent of the TPP’s economic weight, the deal in its current form is technically dead.
The only possible option for Japan and Singapore to keep the deal alive is to amend the requirement clause for it to come into force. That means the remaining members excluding the US would have to hold fresh negotiations, which, as Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong admitted, would not be easy to do. Still both Singapore and Japan hope many more countries will feel left out if the US does abandon the deal and there is the willingness to preserve the bulk of the current arrangement.
Time will tell.