SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) - Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries signed a sweeping free trade agreement Thursday to streamline trade and slash tariffs on the same day that President Donald Trump was expected to formalize new tariffs on aluminum and steel to protect U.S. producers.
Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year, causing fears that it would not prosper without its most influential country. But the remaining 11 members pressed ahead, saying they were showing resolve against protectionism.
The ministers dropped key provisions that the Americans had required on protection of intellectual property, among others. The renegotiated pact signed in Chile’s capital was also renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP.
The pact includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Its success highlights the isolation of the U.S. under Trump’s protectionist rhetoric on trade and his “America first” philosophy.
“It leaves the U.S. at a disadvantage from both a trade and a broader strategic perspective,” said Joshua Meltzer, senior fellow in the global economy and development program at the Brookings Institution. “It is now a trade bloc that discriminates against the U.S.”
Meltzer said the United States’ ability to shape the rules of trade in the Asia-Pacific region “is very much diminished.”