'Screwed' by Justin Trudeau, leaders fume over scuppered Trans-Pacific Partnership deal

'Screwed' by Justin Trudeau, leaders fume over scuppered Trans-Pacific Partnership deal

'Screwed' by Justin Trudeau, leaders fume over scuppered Trans-Pacific Partnership deal

Updated 11 November 2017, 15:55 AEDT

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau infuriates leaders of 10 other Asia-Pacific countries by pulling a sudden "no show" for the signing of a lucrative trade deal.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has infuriated leaders of 10 other Asia-Pacific countries by pulling a sudden "no show" for the signing of a lucrative trade deal.

Mr Trudeau becomes the second leader, behind Donald Trump, to desert the Trans-Pacific Partnership — but unlike the United States President his motives and future intentions have not been publicly explained.

The 45-year-old Canadian had been due to enter a meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam, where fellow leaders had waited patiently on him to seal the "TPP-11" trade pact — a deal involving Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.

But after a lengthy delay, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe entered the room to announce the signing was off because Mr Trudeau would not attend.

An official familiar with the process summarised the frustration of all leaders in the room, who represent economies with a combined $12 trillion in GDP.

"The Canadians screwed everybody," he said.

Australia's Trade Minister Steve Ciobo was more diplomatic.

"This is a disappointing development," he said.

Confounding Mr Ciobo and the prime ministers and presidents was the fact that Mr Trudeau's trade minister, Francois-Philippe Champagne, had attended a meeting 24 hours earlier and had raised no objections with the signing ceremony proceeding.

'Cold feet' suggested as elections loom in Quebec

Grasping for explanation, some ministers have concluded Mr Trudeau got "cold feet" because of looming elections in industrial Quebec, where job security is a potent political issue.

If Mr Trudeau does not re-join negotiations, he would emulate Donald Trump as the second-most significant conscientious objector to the TPP.

One of Mr Trump's first official acts after inauguration was to formally withdraw from negotiations on the partnership, citing it as an example of "trade deals that put the interests of insiders and the Washington elite over the hard-working men and women of this country".

In Da Nang on the eve of the APEC Summit, Mr Trump has given an address to business chiefs, explaining that his administration will put bilateral (or one-one) trade deals ahead of multi-lateral trade pacts.

Mr Trump and the other 20 leaders of the APEC economies will on Saturday retreat into the Summit for private talks.

After the "no show", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had what has been described as a "frank conversation between friends", expressing Australia's disappointment about the boycott of the signing ceremony.

Mr Turnbull vowed to continue working with partners on the TPP.

His determination is matched by Mr Ciobo.

"This is not the first time the TPP has faced some challenges," the Trade Minister said.

"We will work through this and we have, of course, additional opportunities in the future for us to reconvene to keep working through these issues, and hopefully we will be able to find a pathway forward that accommodates the requests from Canada."