Singapore 'heartened' TPP members looking to preserve pact benefits

Singapore is "heartened" by a decision made by parties to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to continue looking into how they can reap the benefits of the mega trade deal, even as no decision was made on its future.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the remaining 11 members of the TPP met in Chile for the first time since President Donald Trump's executive order to pull the US out of the deal, which effectively prevented the TPP from coming into force in its current state.

On Thursday, Singapore's Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said in a statement of the meeting: "Singapore is heartened that parties were committed to sustaining momentum on the TPP, and exploring all available options to preserve the benefits of the TPP, to ultimately harvest the gains in a timely manner.

The TPP members, meeting on the sidelines of a two-day meeting of 15 countries in Chile's ViƱa Del Mar, had issued a joint statement reiterating their support for free trade, but also noted that their meeting in Chile focused on the exchanging of views "on their respective domestic processes regarding TPP" and "on a way forward that would advance economic integration in the Asia-Pacific".

Senior trade officials will meet and consult in preparation for their respective ministers to meet again on the margins of the Apec meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade on May 20-21, the statement said.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently stated his position on the issue.

Noting that there is talk that the 11 other countries involved - Singapore included - could still go ahead with the free-trade pact without the world's largest economy, he said that Singapore would sign on to such a deal.

But this can only happen if there is a consensus reached among the remaining nations, he said in an interview with BBC.

This article was first published on March 17, 2017.
Get The Business Times for more stories.