DANANG, Vietnam: The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is still alive despite the unexpected absence of Canadian leader Justin Trudeau at the TPP-11 leaders meeting here on Friday.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who was among the leaders made to wait for an hour before the meeting was cancelled, was cautious in commenting on Trudeau's no-show, insisting that the agreement was still alive.
"It is not dead. There is no consensus. We have to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"We have to give a few more months, there is no time frame," he told the Malaysian media in a late night press conference.
Najib admitted Trudeau's absence was unexpected because there was no indication there was going to be a problem.
"But at the 11th hour there was a problem, no specific reason given but most TPP-11 leaders think it is more political than substantive, that he needs more time to deal with his political base and voters at home.
"So we decided to give him the space and time to work it out. It was not intentional or was deliberate to scuttle TPP," he said.
It is understood Japan and Vietnamese trade ministers will hold a press conference at 11am Saturday.
Trudeau was largely criticised by officials of other TPP-11 partners when he left the leaders "red-faced" with his no-show at the scheduled meeting.
Asked if Trudeau showed disrespect to other world leaders including Japan's Shinzo Abe who took the lead in TPP-11, Najib said Abe was dealing with Trudeau as the other leaders were waiting for Trudeau to turn up.
"They were trying to solve it. Abe was dealing with Trudeau intensely. But they couldn't reach an agreement and we had to say no consensus.
"But again it doesn't mean Canada has rejected it."
Najib also said Malaysia was still committed to the free trade deal, reiterating that the deal agreed must be on Malaysia's terms.