US confirms withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership

US confirms withdrawal from Trans-Pacific Partnership

The US has formally confirmed that it will be pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the most significant free trade agreements (FTAs) of recent years.

A flagship international trade policy of former US president Barack Obama, the pact was set to significantly liberalize trade between the US and 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The finalized proposal was signed in February 2016 after seven years of negotiations, but came under significant criticism from a number of leading figures, including presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Mr Trump's subsequent election victory and inauguration as president has allowed him to sign an executive order taking the US out of the agreement.

The Republican has voiced significant opposition to multilateral trade deals due to their impact on local jobs, saying the withdrawal from the TPP will be "a great thing for the American worker".

Following this development, the remaining 11 TPP nations are considering their options, with Australian trade minister Steve Ciobo saying the country is keen to continue pursuing a revised version of the deal that excludes the US, with a number of discussions with partner nations having already been held.

Ministers from New Zealand have also expressed an interest in keeping the TPP alive even without the US; however, Japan's stance is less clear, although prime minister Shinzo Abe has voiced his determination to engage Mr Trump's government on the continued importance of free trade.

This is despite Mr Abe having previously stated that the TPP would be "meaningless" without US participation.