Peru proposes talks to save TPP after Trump firms up opposition

LIMA (Reuters) - Peru proposed new talks to ensure the U.S.-proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership will be implemented after Donald Trump vowed to withdraw the United States from the sweeping trade deal on the first day of his administration.

Trade Minister Eduardo Ferreyros, who last week urged the world not to “box in” Trump on his campaign stance toward the TPP, said the U.S. President-elect’s comments on Monday had “dramatically changed the panorama.”

“But in my opinion it doesn’t kill it. We can work on it, change it” so its implementation does not hinge on U.S. ratification, Ferreyros said in an interview late on Monday with local TV channel Canal N.

The TPP, signed by the United States, Peru and 10 other Pacific rim countries early this year, was written so it cannot go into effect without ratification from the United States, which has framed the pact as a way to counter China’s rise in the fast-growing Asia Pacific.

“We can modify that clause and also take advantage to modify other clauses that might be uncomfortable for us,” said Ferreyros. Asked if China could join the TPP, Ferreyros said yes but that Beijing would have to show interest first.

China has been promoting a rival regional free trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), that includes India but is not expected to include steep tariff reductions or strong protections for workers, the environment or intellectual property, according to the administration of outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama.

Beijing said Sunday that high standards in multilateral trade deals discourages participation from developing economies.

On Tuesday, Peru announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with China to work on an update of their 6-year-old bilateral free trade deal, which currently excludes textile and garment sectors.

Trump, who has described multilateral free trade deals as bad for U.S. manufacturing jobs, on Monday formally declared his intent to withdraw from the deal on his first day in office, appearing to open a path for China to assume the leadership mantle on trade and diplomacy in Asia.

Reporting By Marco Aquino, Writing By Mitra Taj; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama