Pacific trade deal closer but leaders have yet to endorse it

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DANANG, Vietnam (AP) — Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries said they reached an agreement Saturday to proceed with the free-trade Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that was in doubt after President Donald Trump abandoned it. However, an immediate formal endorsement by the countries’ leaders meeting in Vietnam appeared unlikely.

A statement issued early Saturday said an accord was reached on “core elements” of the 11-member pact. The compromise was delayed by last-minute disagreements that prevented the TPP leaders from meeting to endorse a plan on Friday.

“Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership,” the 11 nations said in a statement.

A news conference was scheduled for later Saturday morning Vietnam time.

Japan’s delegate to the talks, Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, said disagreements that cropped up Friday had been resolved in five hours of talks that stretched late into the night.

“We have confirmed there was no mistake about us having reached a basic agreement,” Motegi said.

Asked if the deal had the support of Canada, whose Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not show up for the meeting planned for Friday, Motegi said “yes.”

“Canada did agree, and that means the ‘top’ also agreed,” he said. Japanese media reported that the Japanese and Vietnamese co-chairs of the ministerial meetings would hold a news conference Saturday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, which wraps up later Saturday.