Hanoi, Vietnam. The group of Pacific Rim trade ministers meeting in Vietnam committed Sunday to move ahead with the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact after the United States simply walked out.The 11 countries represent roughly 13.5 percent of the global economy, according to the World Bank.

Trade Minister Todd McClay of New Zealand said the remaining 11 TPP countries are open to others joining provided they accept the trade agreement’s high standards on labor and environmental protection. He said the door remains open to the Americans, even after President Trump said the organizations goals were not of value to the USA.

Since the American withdrawal, Japan and New Zealand have been spearheading efforts to revive the deal. In its current form, the TPP requires Trump’s participation before it can go into effect. That means the remaining countries would need to change the rules for any deal to go ahead, and it would be significantly smaller without the involvement of the world’s largest American economy.

“It’s clear that each country is having to consider both economic values and strategic importance of this agreement, but in the end there are a lot of unity among all of the countries and a great desire to work together to come up with an agreement among 11 that not only delivers for all of our economies and the people of our countries, it’s also open to others countries in the world to join if they can meet the high standards in the TPP agreement,” McClay told reporters.

American Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, making his international debut since taking office a week ago, defended Trump’s decision to pull out of the TPP.

“We expect to engage with members here in many cases on bilateral basis,” he told reporters. “The president made the decision, which I certainly agree with, that bilateral negotiation is better for the United States than multilateral negotiations.”

The ministers have tasked their trade officials to present the assessment to their leaders when they meet for an annual  Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam this November, which will also include Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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