Talks towards salvaging a Pacific Rim trade pact this weekend lost steam Friday as several countries, including Canada, expressed enough concerns that leaders cancelled a scheduled meeting to discuss the deal.
The heads of the 11 countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership had planned to meet on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Danang, Vietnam.
However, the meeting was cancelled due to issues raised by several of the partners, including Canada, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said.
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Trudeau held bilateral meetings earlier Friday with two of his TPP partners: the president of Mexico and the prime minister of Japan.
Heading into the summit, some expected an agreement on TPP.
The 11 remaining TPP countries have been working to revive the deal, which was abandoned earlier this year by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Trudeau has said he’s not going to rush into the deal unless it addresses the best interests of Canadians, despite pressure from some partners to move quickly on a revised TPP.
A senior government official says Japan has been one of the countries applying pressure on Canada to come to an agreement on an updated TPP.
Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stood side by side and smiled for the cameras before their meeting. They only clasped hands after someone in the room said: “Shake hands please.”
Then the men took their seats.
“When did you get in?” Trudeau asked.
“Yesterday,” Abe responded.
Late Thursday, Trudeau’s Liberal government flatly denied media reports quoting Japan’s economy minister saying that a “deal in principle” had been reached on the trade pact.
International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne quickly disputed the report.
“Despite reports, there is no agreement in principle on TPP,” Champagne tweeted late Thursday.
Champagne and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland were in the room for Friday’s Trudeau-Abe meeting, which lasted more than 50 minutes.
Earlier Friday, Trudeau met Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto for about 20 minutes in the same room.
The men flashed big smiles and shook hands as they exchanged warm greetings.
“We’ve got lots to talk about,” Trudeau said to Pena Nieto as they took their seats.