Last week, those countries indicated that they wanted to press ahead with the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a sweeping multinational trade agreement that had originally been sold as a way to tether the United States more closely to East Asia and to create an economic bloc capable of standing against an increasingly muscular China.
At a meeting in Hakone, a resort town south of Tokyo, Japan led trade negotiators from the 11 countries — including Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Vietnam — in discussions about reviving rules that would improve labor conditions and increase protections for intellectual property in some countries, while opening more markets to free trade in agricultural products and digital services around the region.
Japan’s effort to salvage the deal reflects a growing recognition that countries that have previously counted on American leadership will have to forge ahead on their own.
In Japan, officials are particularly eager to pre-empt China’s attempt to forge a rival trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. That deal would bring together 16 countries, including the ones in the TPP, albeit under considerably less stringent rules.
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