TPP REVIVAL AT APEC MEETING IN HANOI?
Moving ahead may help bargaining position of members in bilateral talks with US
HANOI bargaining position of the members in bilateral talks with the US.
It could also undercut the increasing regional dominance of China, which is not part of the TPP and backs a bigger but less comprehensive free trade agreement for Asia.
“We’ll be looking to see whether TPP ministers say they are definitely pushing ahead by simply by changing the articles,” said Alan Bollard, executive director of the Apec Secretariat. “Or whether they come out and say they’re positive about the prospects but need more discussions.”
After initially appearing reluctant to move ahead without the US, Japan is at the forefront of the push along with New Zealand. Japan has emphasised that it would ultimately like to bring the US back in.
The backing of some other members is less clear.
Vietnam would have been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the original TPP because of lower tariffs and more investment from the US. Malaysia is in a similar position and an official there voiced hope of an eventual return to the TPP.
Pushing TPP forward could help Japan’s position in negotiating a bilateral deal with the US, said Nguyen Xuan Thanh of the Harvard Kennedy School. The same would apply for Vietnam, he said.
New US Trade Representative Lighthizer’s individual meetings with counterparts, particularly from the world’s second biggest economy, China, will be closely watched.
Mexico and Canada, with which Trump seeks to renegotiate their North American Free Trade Agreement, are also in Apec.
The final statement from Apec trade ministers will be scrutinised for any change to language which last year emphasised “free and open” trade and investment. It made no mention of the word “fair”. Reuters TRADE ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) grouping will discuss various trade agreements or possible agreements around their meeting in Hanoi this weekend.
Here is a rough guide to the agreements and how they compare.
TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP)
Its future has been doubt since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States in one of his first acts as president, but Japan and others are now trying to get the 11 remaining members to push ahead. It does not include China.
Since the withdrawal of the United States, it is sometimes referred to as TPP-11 or TPP minus One.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP): US$8,897 billion (vs. US$25,559 billion for TPP-12)
Population: 496 million (vs. 817 million for TPP-12)
Trade between members: US$265 billion (US$1,014 billion for TPP-12)
Members: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam (TPP-12 included the United States)
REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP (RECP) This free trade deal is backed by China and it has been given new impetus by the US withdrawal from the TPP. Members now hope to get it signed by the end of the year, although past targets have proved optimistic.
RCEP is less comprehensive than TPP and the main focus is reducing tariffs, although not as many would reach zero as under that other agreement.
GDP: US$21,490 billion
Population: 3,519 million
Trade between members: US$1,937 billion
Members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India
FREE TRADE AREA OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC (FTAAP)
This is essentially an aspiration among the 21 Pacific Rim nations that are part of Apec, a forum created in 1989 to promote free trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
GDP: US$41,581 billion
Population: 2,847 million
Trade between members: US$5,547 billion
Members: Russia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Canada, United States, Mexico, Peru, Chile. Reuters