Trudeau a no-show at TPP leaders meeting at Apec summit

TEN leaders from countries remaining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were left "red-faced" by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he did not turn up at a TPP-11 leaders meeting.

The meeting was scheduled to be held on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) here yesterday where the leaders were supposed to issue a declaration on a broad agreement to continue the TPP, minus the United States.

Officials said the leaders were shocked when lead chairman Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the remaining members were not in a position to conclude the deal.

"Abe just came into the room and announced we are not in a position to conclude and that we will meet again in the future.

"That's all.

"The leaders were made to wait for an hour. No explanation why. No one was given a chance to talk," said an official.

Trudeau's no-show was unexpected because Canada's list to suspend certain provisions of the original TPP deal has been accommodated.

"I think it is more political. We can't find a technical or economic reason for them to do what they did today," said an official.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed were present at the TPP-11 meeting.

An official said Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang, who hosted the meeting, almost stormed out of the venue after Abe made the announcement.

He said it would be an embarassment for Vietnam because the Apec Summit this time ran into several controversies, including Apec trade ministers for the first time, could not agree on a statement due to United States' objection on the language for multilateral trading system.

And yesterday, within an hour of US President Donald Trump's arrival, he spoke about America First policy at a business forum for a regional meeting that promotes globalisation.

"And now, this no-show by the Canadian Prime Minister.

"This kind of things can put a country's credibility at stake. Next time, if you want to go negotiate with them, you have to think twice," said an official.

Asked if the TPP-11 is in limbo, he said it was too early to tell but there was a lot of uncertainties following yesterday's incident.

"It is really frustrating because as of this morning, Canada's issues were taken onboard, not to say 100 per cent, but there were some future work, just like a few others.

"But they didn't give any indication. As far as we are concerned, as of last night during the ministers' meeting, we have reached a broad agreement to move forward the deal," said the official.

"We are now left wondering what had happened to Canada."

It is understood that a last-minute discussion among the TPP-11 ministers is still ongoing last night.

The TPP-11 countries have stepped up efforts in the last five months to salvage the deal after the US withdrew in January.

Some of the partners have submitted a list of items to be suspended in the original provisions as asked by the United States in the original agreement.