Posts Tagged ‘free trade agreement’
There is a fresh piece put out via the Singapore’s Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) on the origins and evolution of the Trans Pacific Parnership (TPP), a trade agreement currently being negotiated by nine countries – Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, new Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
The article delves into important and interesting issues such as how negotiators grappled with the complications of overlapping trading agreements between various counties and managed the domestic political constraints affecting members.
On the key current issue of how the additional members will affect the TPP (Japan, China and Mexico will all expressed interest in joining last year), the authors are conflicted. Many things still remain unclear, including whether new entrants will be allowed to join negotiations in progress or be asked to accede to existing texts, if the lack of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in the US for talks with Japan will delay Tokyo’s entry, and how much more complex negotiations will get. The entire agreement also cannot be renegotiated for each new member, so at a certain point, the agreement will have to be closed for new membership (like the WTO) and countries who still want to accede has to accept the deal on the table with only minor modifications.
But, at the same time, the authors argue:
Even the most enthusiastic supporters of the TPP recognize limited economic benefits in the current configuration. The agreement will not really make a difference until and unless at least one other major economy joins – especially from Northeast Asia. This means that every clause in the TPP has to be negotiated with one eye on potential members. If the agreement is too restrictive, burdensome, or delivers too few benefits, other states will not bother to apply for membership. This will dilute the importance of the whole ageement. Negotiators must continuously remember not only their own narrow interests or even the interests of the bigger, existing group, but also consider the interests of a potentially much larger future institutional grouping.
The article is a chapter in a forthcoming book by the two authors entitled: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): The Quest for Quality in a 21st Century Trade Agreement”, to be published by Cambridge University Press in summer 2012. It should be a good read on an important subject.