Trans-Pacific trade pact praised, panned
MANILA: The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal between the US and 11 other Pacific nations is drawing potential new members from Asia and criticism from those excluded, as it heads for a tough ride in the US Congress. Leaders of the trade grouping that spans the Pacific Rim met alongside a regional economic summit yesterday in the Philippines and President Barack Obama urged them to ratify the deal “as quickly as possible.”
The leaders issued a statement acknowledging interest among other countries in joining the pact, which currently represents about 40 percent of global trade.”This interest affirms that through TPP we are creating a new and compelling model for trade in one of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic regions,” the statement said. Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Manila, met with Obama and sought his help in eventually joining the accord, which aims to reduce barriers to trade and also set labor and environmental standards.
“If the whole idea is to broaden trade, making it exclusive actually defeats the whole purpose of why you enter into all of these agreements,” Aquino said earlier in the week. Indonesia and South Korea are among other countries that have expressed interest in joining the trade arrangement, which is envisioned as a foundation for an even bigger region-wide trading bloc. The Pan-Pacific trade deal has drawn criticism, however, from China and Russia, which are not part of it.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that world trade rules should be drafted within the framework of the World Trade Organization, not regional groupings. Chinese President Xi Jinping also alluded to the potential conflict between regional deals and global trade rules. “We need to encourage equal footing participation and extensive consultation and make free trade arrangements open and inclusive to the extent possible,” Xi said in a speech. US officials have insisted the trade pact will be open to other countries, as long as they are willing to commit to its rules.—AP