The 11 members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to pursue their trade deal without the U.S. at a forum of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
"I believe at some point there will be a series of bilateral agreements with partners in this part of the world," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said at the conference. "Bilateral negotiations are better for the U.S. than multilateral negotiations."
Japan and other remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will this weekend decide how to revive the trade agreement ditched by President Trump.
Their trade ministers will talk on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, where newly appointed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is due to give more detail of Washington's trade plans.
China and South Korea will be joining today's trade talks with member states of the now-scuttled Trans-Pacific Partnership, raising fears that Beijing may dominate the meeting as it looks to benefit from Washington's absence.
The pow wow in Chile is expected to have a three-fold focus: the possibility of a TPP agreement without the U.S., the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Free Trade Area for the Asia-Pacific.
Australia has called for the Trans-Pacific Partnership to go ahead without the U.S. following President Trump's withdrawal from the 12-nation trade agreement.
China's foreign ministry declined to say whether Beijing would consider any invitation to join the TPP, but a spokesperson instead cited rival trade pacts, saying that Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership "should be concluded at an early date."
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has released a video laying out actions he will take on his first day in office, including withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a key achievement of the Obama administration.
Trump also said he would issue a rule cutting government regulations, investigate abuses of visa programs, and cancel some restrictions on energy production, including shale oil, gas and coal.