Vietnam’s decision to hold off ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a further blow to the beleaguered trade pact and a setback for American economic ambitions in Asia. The 12-nation TPP is aimed at liberalizing trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, and Vietnam has been hoping that its participation in the deal will lead to an increase in exports. But even in the U.S., which led negotiations for the pact, approval of the TPP is nowhere in sight. This apparently convinced Vietnam to proceed slowly as well. An official in the secretariat of the Vietnamese parliament told reporters on Oct. 18 that approval of the TPP is not on the agenda for the current legislative session, which runs through late November, making it certain that the country will not ratify the pact this year. Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, chairwoman of the parliament, said in September that Vietnam’s ratification would depend on factors such as moves by other negotiating members of the TPP and the outcome of the Nov. 8 presidential election in the U.S.
At the same time, the Philippines, which was considering joining the TPP after Vietnam, has apparently changed its stance in recent weeks, moving away from Washington and closer to Beijing. With ratification of the TPP looking more likely to stall in a number of countries, the influence of the U.S. in Asia appears to be rapidly weakening.