By Yantoultra Ngui
KUALA LUMPUR--Malaysia said it would deepen trade ties with China and other countries after Donald Trump's election in the U.S. likely torpedoed plans for an American-led free trade accord with Washington's chief Asia allies.
Malaysia appeared to be the first Asian country to shift its focus toward a proposed China-led trade group rather than the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which the Obama administration freighted with strategic significance as a counterweight to China's rise. During the campaign, Mr. Trump outlined a more isolationist and protectionist vision for the U.S.
Malaysia's trade minister said his government would focusits hopes in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a group led by China. The minister, Mustapa Mohamed, said TPP members would discuss the status of that accord next week during a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Lima, Peru, the first one since Mr. Trump's election.
"We hope to get more clarity when we meet next week," Mr. Mustapa said.
Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress told the White House they won't advance it in the election's aftermath, and Obama administration officials acknowledged it has no way forward now.
China said it would seek support for the Beijing-led free-trade area in the Asia-Pacific during the Peru summit. China isn't part of the TPP. President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the summit.
Japan, a TPP member, will consider the possibility of renegotiating the TPP without the U.S., a top Japanese official said this week. He said the accord was a more comprehensive one than theRCEP because it included such principles as intellectual property protection.
But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that he still believed the TPP had a chance. Japanese officials say they will try to make the case for it to the Trump administration.
The TPP, which member governments agreed to in Atlanta last year, requires ratification of at least six countries, accounting for 85% of the total gross domestic product of the member 12 countries, to come into force. The U.S alone constitutes about 60% of that.
The Obama administration has warned that failure of the TPP, which had underpinned the U.S. "pivot" to Asia, could result in China winning trade advantages at the expense of the U.S.
Peter Landers in Tokyo contributed to this article.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 15, 2016 00:25 ET (05:25 GMT)
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