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Malaysia pins trade pact aspirations on Abe-Trump meeting set for New York

by November 16, 2016 General

November 17, 2016, 12:08 am TWN

TOKYO–Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Wednesday expressed hope that Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe can persuade U.S. President-elect Donald Trump of the merits of a languishing Pacific free trade deal.

The plea from Najib came a day before Abe is set to meet Trump in New York, and as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also reiterated to Abe the economic and strategic importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Asian leaders are scrambling to save the TPP, championed by U.S. President Barack Obama, but targeted by Trump, who claims that the 12-nation deal would harm the U.S. economy and costs jobs.

Najib and Abe, after their summit in Tokyo, told reporters that their nations are moving ahead toward ratifying the TPP.

Besides Australia, Japan, Malaysia and the United States, the accord also includes Brunei, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The group accounts for an enormous 40 percent of the global economy, and was envisaged as a counterweight to China’s expanding economic influence.

“We hope that the TPP agreement will come into force,” Najib told reporters with Abe by his side. “That is why I told Prime Minister Abe that his meeting … with President-elect Donald Trump is very much awaited by all TPP countries.”

Najib added that he hopes the “strategic importance of the TPP will be recognized by the incoming (U.S.) administration, as well as by all participating countries.”

Abe’s office announced that he separately spoke with Turnbull by telephone to discuss the TPP.

Turnbull highlighted his shared resolve with Japan to work with the incoming U.S. administration, Abe’s office said in a statement.

“TPP’s significance goes beyond setting economic rules for the Asia-Pacific region, but also has strategic significance of securing peace and stability of the region by countries that share basic values,” Abe told Turnbull.

Abe and other leaders of TPP countries will caucus on the sidelines of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru that begins this week.

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at the end of a joint press conference following bilateral talks at the latter’s official residence in Tokyo on Wednesday, Nov. 16. (AFP)

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