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It's not dead: Eleven nations discussed the TPP trade deal without the US

TOKYO — Representatives from 11 Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries met in a Japanese hot spring resort near Tokyo on Wednesday to try to find an alternative trade pact following the withdrawal of the United States, local media reported.

The chief negotiators kicked off the two-day meeting in the town of Hakone.

The meeting comes on the heels of a broad free trade agreement reached last week between Japan and the European Union -- a breakthrough seen as a rebuke to U.S. President Donald Trump's protectionist trade policies.

Trump decided to pull the US out of the TPP in January after the 12 members, including Australia and Malaysia, signed the pact in February 2016.

On Wednesday, the envoys discussed ways to make some progress before an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam in November.

Kazuyoshi Umemoto, named Japan's new chief TPP negotiator Friday, said, "Time is not so abundant, so we very much hope we can achieve as much as possible in this meeting," Kyodo News agency reported.

The TPP can take effect only after six countries that constitute 85 per cent or more of the original 12 members' combined gross domestic product complete domestic approval procedures.

It is impossible for the pact to come into force under current terms as the United States alone made up more than 60 per cent of the group's GDP.

Japan, the largest economy among the 11 TPP countries, hopes to reach an agreement to change the requirements to bring the trade deal into effect without looking again at the content of the pact, Kyodo said.

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