Bringing US back into CPTPP might be too hard - Australia Trade Minister

Donald Trump officially withdraws the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Donald Trump officially withdraws the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Photo credit: Reuters

Australia's open to the US rejoining the CPTPP but isn't looking forward to "unpacking all the stitching" that would require, its Trade Minister has said.

Last week Donald Trump said he wants to rejoin the deal, more than a year after pulling the US out. That was one of his first acts as US President, but now wants back in to counter China's influence in the Pacific region.

He said it would have to be on "our terms", but Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo says that's unlikely, with none of the 11 signatories likely to have the "appetite" for more negotiations.

"Now don't get me wrong, that's not saying we don't want the Americans back in, we do," Mr Ciobo told Sky News.

"But what I am saying is I can't see us unpicking all the stitching that brought this deal together to accommodate the US, at this point."

The negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership dragged on for years, before being rebranded the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and signed after the US pulled out.

A number of provisions backed by the US were suspended when it left the talks, but not deleted entirely. They could be reactivated if it rejoins.

Mr Ciobo said drug pricing would be a non-negotiable.

The countries in the CPTPP are Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam and Australia.

Since pulling out, the US has erected new tariffs on some imports - the opposite of the intended outcome of the CPTPP, which seeks to foster more trade.

Labour long opposed the deal, but once in Government found concessions easier to get once the US pulled out.  Trade Minister David Parker said it achieved "four-and-a-half" of its five non-negotiables.