On Sunday, at the end of an economic meeting of Asian and Pacific countries, the 11 nations remaining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade pact agreed to continue working to implement the agreement, despite President Trump pulling the U.S. out in January. New Zealand's trade representative, Todd McClay, headed the TPP meeting on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, and suggested the U.S. would be welcome to rejoin the TPP if political winds shift; other nations might be invited to join "if they can meet the high standards in the TPP agreement," too, he added
New Zealand and Japan are the only signatories that have ratified TPP, and Japan is the largest economy still in the bloc. The other nine countries are Australia, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei.
The APAC meeting was the first foray for newly confirmed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, whose insistence on removing negative references to "protectionism" in the final statement led the organizers to forgo a joint statement for two separate statements, one from Vietnam's representative and the other an "actions" statement. "With voices rising, negotiators tried to reach agreement until 1 a.m. on Sunday before giving up and compromising on the two separate statements," Reuters reports, citing officials with knowledge of the discussions. The U.S. has faced similar disagreements at other international economic meetings over Trump's "America first" agenda, which favors bilateral agreements over multilateral trade pacts.