(File pix) Japanese Minister of Economic Revitalization Toshimitsu Motegi gives a speech at the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Ministerial Meeting during the APEC 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam Nov 9, 2017. Reuters Photo

DA NANG (Vietnam): Japan, Australia and nine other signatories to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade pact on Thursday reached a broad agreement in talks on concluding a new TPP deal without the United States, Japan’s Jiji Press reported.

The 11 countries agreed to suspend part of trade and investment rules included in the original 12-nation TPP accord, until the United States returns to the multilateral framework.

They agreed to implement the original TPP’s market access arrangements, including abolition or reduction of agricultural and industrial tariffs, in general.

The 11 countries reached the broad agreement at a ministerial meeting that began in Da Nang, central Vietnam, on Wednesday.

The new TPP is of a great significance in crafting new rules in the Asia-Pacific region that are free and fair, Japanese economic and fiscal policy minister Toshimitsu Motegi told a news conference.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed the view that reaching the broad agreement was a significant step forward in his growth strategy, according to Motegi.

Talks on the original TPP started in March 2010. Japan, the United States and 10 other countries reached a broad agreement on a deal in October 2015 and signed it in February 2016.

But US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the TPP upon his inauguration in January this year, prompting the remaining 11 countries to consider a new deal.

The original TPP was needed to be ratified by six countries that account for 85 per cent of its members’ combined gross domestic product.

The remaining countries together account for 14 per cent of global GDP, compared with 38 per cent in the 11 countries plus the United States.

The 11 countries are expected to sign the new TPP by the end of the first half of 2018. But the new pact is unlikely to take effect at least until two years later because some countries face difficulties in ratifying it, sources familiar with the situation said -- Bernama

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