For the second time in two years, countries around the Pacific are coming together to form a bloc aimed at boosting trade and putting pressure on China’s economic system.
This time, they are doing it with one key country absent: the U.S.
Japan, Canada, Mexico and eight other Pacific nations signed a new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, on Thursday. The Trump administration, which later in the day announced tariffs on global imports of steel and aluminum, pulled the U.S. out of the original TPP a year ago, fulfilling a promise in a 2016 election campaign dominated by skepticism about the benefits of global trade.
The goal of the pact is to open borders to more trade in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region and to set international standards, which many free-trade advocates see as crucial to managing the encroaching dominance of China, the second-biggest economy in the region and in the world.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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