One of Donald Trump’s first acts as president was quitting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the nearly completed free-trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries bordered by the Pacific Ocean.
It looked like the end. Barack Obama’s administration had been the driving force behind the negotiations, and U.S. ratification was necessary for the agreement to take effect. But to the surprise of many, the remaining 11 members of the TPP have so far stuck together even without U.S. participation. Unabashed free-traders stepped up to counter Trump’s protectionism: Japan, the world’s third-biggest economy, has assumed the leadership role. Canada, initially a reluctant member of the club, volunteered to host one of the first post-Trump meetings of the remaining TPP countries to work on a way forward — perhaps because research shows that Canadians will do better if they have preferential access that their American cousins lack. Smaller, poorer countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia wanted freer trade with the U.S. but agreed to consider improved access to countries such as Australia, Canada and Japan as a consolation prize for years of hard bargaining.
One of Donald Trump’s first acts as president was quitting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the nearly completed free-trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 othe…