LIMA (Reuters) - Peru will seek free trade deals with Australia and other Pacific Rim countries if the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement it signed onto dies in the U.S. Congress, the incoming president said on Tuesday.
Centrist President-elect Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a 77-year-old former investment banker, said leaders of both political parties in the United States have attacked the TPP to build support ahead of the Nov. 8 election, and that the 12-member pact might be ratified by Congress afterward.
"When the electoral cycle is over let's see what happens," Kuczynski said in a press conference with foreign media two days before his inauguration. "If the TPP isn't approved, we'll seek agreements with the countries that we're lacking."
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Kuczynski cited Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand as potential new partners for free-trade deals that would build on more than a dozen pacts Peru already has with countries including the United States, China, Canada and Japan.
The U.S.-and-Japan-led TPP aims to slash tariffs on goods in 40 percent of the world's economy. But U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has vowed to kill TPP if elected and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton has said she opposes it because it is not strong enough on currency manipulation and other areas.
Kuczynski did not mention any parts of the TPP that he would want changed if it were renegotiated, but said he thinks Peru's top trade partner China should be a part of the agreement.
U.S. President Barack Obama has pitched the TPP to skeptical lawmakers as a way to counter China's rising economic and political clout in the region.
"The objective of the TPP is to exclude China and I don't think that's right," Kuczynski said. "What we need are treaties that are much more inclusive."
Kuczynski plans to travel to China for his first trip abroad as president to seek investments in metal refineries and smelters that would help Peru wring more from its exports of copper, zinc, gold and silver.
Kuczynski said Peru could easily double the capacity of its only operating copper smelter and that it would make sense to build a new plant along the southern coast.
"We have the gas, we have the port, we have everything, except the organization to promote it," Kuczynski said.
Peru, a global minerals exporter of some 30 million people, also does not have trade deals with TPP-signatories Brunei or Vietnam.
(Reporting By Mitra Taj; editing by Grant McCool)