Japan, Australia and New Zealand reacted cautiously Friday after President Donald Trump signaled he might reopen talks on a Pacific Rim trade deal that he pulled the US out of shortly after taking office.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the 11 nations "fought hard to get the final agreement that we have now before us".
It worries that companies that have moved much of their supply chains to China could make components there, ship them to a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for assembly, then sell them in the United States tariff-free.
His Australian counterpart, Steve Ciobo, said the U.S.is welcome to rejoin the agreement, but added: "Let's also be clear, I think there's very little appetite among the TPP 11 countries for there to be any meaningful renegotiation or indeed any substantial renegotiation of the TPP 11 at all".
International Trade and Industry minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed says the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership renegotiation will take a long time and alter the balance of benefits for parties. "We have agreements with several of them already". "Now we have an opportunity to re-engage on TPP, which is not a bad thing".
"Now we're really negotiating and I think they're going to treat us really fairly", Trump said during a White House meeting with Republican governors and lawmakers from farm states.
Parker said other countries have also expressed an interest in joining, including Colombia, South Korea and Britain.
The remarks were another conciliatory signal from the administration following tit-for-tat tariffs proposals from the world's largest two economies that rattled markets.
The S&P 500 Index closed up 0.8% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average added nearly 300 points, or 1.2%, as investors assessed the changing trade dynamics.
Trump's decision to withdraw from the TPP was among his first actions after he was inaugurated in 2017.
Members of the partnership, including officials from Japan and Australia, seemed hesitant to accept Trump's possible change of heart.
The pact, which was conceived as a counterweight to Beijing's rising economic power in the region, had been negotiated under the administration of former US president Barack Obama, but never approved by US Congress.
Senator Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican who participated in a meeting with Trump on Thursday where he spoke about rejoining the deal, said: "He multiple times reaffirmed the point that TPP might be easier to join now".
Negotiating a new pact could take years.
"When the US walked away, they dropped a lot our intellectual property provisions and labor provisions that made the agreement really important", he said.
The 11 remaining nations represent 13% of global output and include Japan and Canada.
The 11-nation trade deal, which was renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership after the USA withdrew, was signed in March but won't come into force until it's ratified by individual nations.
"Last year, the President kept his promise to end the TPP deal negotiated by the Obama Administration because it was unfair to American workers and farmers", White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement Thursday.