Singapore will ratify Trans-Pacific Partnership: PM Lee

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, front right, talks to his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, front left, as they walk to a meeting room for talks behind closed doors in Hanoi, Vietnam, Thursday, March 23, 2017. Lee is on a four-day visit to Vietnam to boost bilateral ties. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)

Singapore will push forward with ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (24 March), at the end of a four-day official visit to Vietnam.

According to media reports, Lee noted that signatories to the pact had adopted a wait-and-see approach in the wake of President Donald Trump signing an executive order in January to withdraw the US from the TPP.

He told Singapore media, “The TPP, we are all watching how things will develop. Singapore is proceeding with the ratification, I think Vietnam has deferred their ratification but they are watching to see how the other partners play going forward, and what the Americans definitely will do,” said Lee.

After Trump’s move, Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry had said that it would be focusing on other regional trade initiatives as TPP cannot come into effect in its current state. An MTI spokesman added that Singapore was looking to “study the new balance of benefits” with other TPP members.

Last month, Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang noted that one option is for the remaining 11 TPP members to negotiate bilateral deals. Alternative, the 11 members could continue with the ratification process in hopes that the Trump administration would change its mind and rejoin the deal.

Lim added that another possibility was to implement the TPP without the US.