TOKYO – Negotiators from 16 Asian countries are meeting in the Japanese port city of Kobe this week for talks on a regional trade pact that could supplant the Trans-Pacific Partnership rejected by U.S. President Donald Trump.
China is playing a leading role in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, which faces hurdles of its own.
Trump withdrew from the TPP after taking office, saying he prefers bilateral trade deals. The U.S. is not a part of the RCEP initiative, launched in 2013.
Members are struggling to reach consensus over tricky issues such as tariffs, trade in services and restrictions on investments in key industries.
Apart from Japan and China, RCEP members include Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.