Leaders of 12 member states of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) have agreed to step up efforts to implement the free trade agreement as US President-elect Donald Trump has opposed the deal.
The Kyodo News Agency quoted a senior Japanese official as saying that, in a meeting in Lima, Peru, the leaders affirmed their intention to advance domestic procedures such as ratification by parliaments of member states so that the US-led TPP can enter into force.
They underscored the significance of the pact, both economically and strategically, in ensuring stability and prosperity for the region. VNA
According to the official, although it is unclear whether the free trade pact will come into force under a new Trump administration, the leaders did not discuss the possibility of implementing the TPP without the participation of the US.
US President Barack Obama was quoted by the official as saying his administration will continue efforts to win domestic support for the pact, which Trump has vowed to scrap once he takes office in January.
Meanwhile, the White House said President Obama "discussed his support of high-standard trade agreements like TPP, which level the playing field for American workers and advance our interests and values in the economically dynamic and strategically-significant Asia-Pacific region."
Obama also "urged his fellow leaders to continue to work together to advance TPP," it said.
For his part, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: "If we stop our domestic procedures, the TPP will be completely dead. It will be impossible for us to curb protectionism."
The leaders met on the sidelines of a two-day summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, at which the 21 member economies are expected to underscore the importance of free trade and open markets as the world is faced with rising protectionism and stagnated trade growth.
APEC groups the TPP members - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam - and China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan (China) and Thailand.