The 11 Pacific Rim nations that, along with the U.S., negotiated a massive trade deal during the Obama administration are reportedly moving forward on a trade pact without the world's largest economy.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership was crafted over five years of negotiations and would have eliminated thousands of fees and taxes imposed on trade between the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia and other member nations.
Both support and opposition to the proposal, however, cut across party lines in Washington. Proponents said that it would benefit U.S. exports while strengthening labor and environmental standards; critics suggested that it would undercut those protections and cost the country jobs.
Donald Trump's victory in November effectively ended efforts in Congress to pass the TPP, but Japan and New Zealand nonetheless ratified the deal and continued to promote its benefits to their fellow participants.
Over the weekend, the Associated Press reports, trade ministers from those 11 nations vowed to work towards enacting the terms of the agreement "expeditiously."
Trade officials will present their findings at a conference in Vietnam in November. The deal would need to be altered in order to take effect without the U.S., but the ministers will seek to "facilitate membership for the original signatories."
"In the end there are a lot of unity among all of the countries and a great desire to work together to come up with an agreement," New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay told reporters.
McClay said that a deal would also be "open to others countries in the world to join if they can meet the high standards in the TPP agreement" — including the U.S.
The Trump administration, however, reiterated their position in favor of bilateral agreements between the U.S. and a single trade partner.
"We expect to engage with members here in many cases on bilateral basis," U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the AP.