Uncertainty over those plans after Trump abandoned a trade deal he had compared to the “rape” of America has brought fears of protectionism and strengthened China’s leadership credentials in Asia.
Support has built among the so-called TPP-11 for pushing ahead without the United States although trade within the smaller block is only a quarter of that between the original 12 members, according to the most recent data.
Moving ahead could help the bargaining position of the members in bilateral talks with the United States.
“Or whether they come out and say they’re positive about the prospects but need more discussions,” he told Reuters in Hanoi.
The backing of some other members is less clear.
“It’s part of the game,” he told Reuters. “You don’t want to be seen as desperate for bilateral deals.”