TOKYO -- Japan and New Zealand will work to bring the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact into effect at an early date, their leaders said Wednesday, putting their weight behind efforts to implement the agreement without the U.S.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the two countries standard-bearers of free trade at a news conference here following talks with New Zealand counterpart Bill English, adding that the nations would work together toward the early realization of the TPP.
"I'm very pleased that New Zealand stands alongside Japan, taking this important regional agreement forward," English said. The Pacific island nation has already ratified the pact, becoming the second of the original 12 signatories to do so after Japan. Both nations look to lead discussion of reconstituting the agreement without the U.S., which has withdrawn, when ministers from the 11 remaining nations meet in Vietnam on Sunday.
Abe and English also pledged to take tough measures in response to North Korea's nuclear weapons development and provocations such as missile launches. The pair affirmed their commitment to maintaining a free and open international order based on the rule of law in such areas as the South China Sea.