USA officials attending the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Hanoi, Vietnam over the weekend, opposed language that called for all member-countries to "fight against all forms of protectionism", according to Reuters.
In a stormy first foray overseas for Robert Lighthizer, the new U.S. Trade Representative failed to get Asian and Pacific countries to back the Trump administration's "fair trade" agenda as the two sides disagreed over protectionism.
"TPP-11 can make their own decisions and the United States makes its decision, but we expect to stay engaged and I believe at some point there will be a series of bilateral agreements with partners in this part of the world", he told a news conference.
Malaysia has said if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is to proceed without its biggest economy - Donald Trump pulled the USA out of the deal when he took office, citing a perceived threat to American jobs - it should be renegotiated given the downsizing to 11 members.
South Korea should give a boost to the Japan-led Pacific trade deal as Seoul needs to support fair and free trade, a local expert said Monday. The agreement aimed to significantly reduce barriers to trade and establish an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.
Japan's Minister of Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko (R) and New Zealand's Trade Minister Todd McClay (C) walk into a meeting room to attend the APEC trade ministers' meeting at the National Convention Center in Hanoi May 20, 2017.
Mustapa said ministers were "anxious to hear" from new U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer.
The Asian and Pacific countries moved forward with the Trans-Pacific partnership (TPP), despite America's exit.
On the sidelines of Apec, the 11 remaining countries of the TPP agreed to explore how they could move ahead without Washington - partly in the hope that the White House would reconsider leaving. The 11 remaining members, all APEC countries, agreed on Sunday to pursue it without the United States.
Several remaining members have championed its revival, namely New Zealand and Japan, the only two countries that have formally ratified the deal.
One major challenge being faced by the TPP-11 is keeping Vietnam and Malaysia on board.
Canada has previously said the TPP can not legally progress without the USA because of the way the trade deal was framed: It was negotiated under the condition that a minimum of six countries with a combined GDP of 85 percent of the 12 signatories must ratify it.
Ironically, Prime Minister Bill English said uncertainty around Mr Trump was helping keep the deal alive.
A copy of edits to the draft statement seen by Reuters showed that the United States wanted to remove a reference to "reaffirm our commitment to achieving free and open trade" and another to the benefits of globalization.
The wrangling is similar to what has been seen at gatherings of Group of 20 (G20) and Group of Seven (G7) financial leaders, where statements were toned down to fit with the new United States agenda.