Australia, Trump, and the TPP

The TPP itself is, in essence, a series of bilateral commitments under a plurilateral umbrella. Attached to it are a series of bilateral exchanges of letters between some of the members on specific commitments, perhaps a similar device could be used to “tweak” the TPP sufficiently to allow US ratification. Alternatively, in the absence of the TPP, there may be scope for the new US Administration to take a greater leadership role in APEC, an organisation which does important work in enhancing regional economic integration and removing behind-the-border barriers to trade. Importantly, APEC does this through promoting business linkages and voluntary means rather than imposing binding legal rules.

It is conceivable that a new US Administration could seek to “correct” the flaws of the TPP to make it sellable to a domestic constituency. It would have to do this in a manner that did not reopen the entire text of the treaty or negotiations between all parties. But it’s not beyond the wit of lawyer, trade negotiator and politician to figure out how to do this. The TPP itself is, in essence, a series of bilateral commitments under a plurilateral umbrella. Attached to it are a series of bilateral exchanges of letters between some of the members on specific commitments, perhaps a similar device could be used to “tweak” the TPP sufficiently to allow US ratification.

The US has been at the forefront of shaping the rules-based global order since World War II, and the TPP is another means of doing that in the region. The TPP would have been a stepping stone to a Free Trade Agreement among 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). On an economic front, in the absence of the TPP, there may be scope for the new US Administration to take a greater leadership role in APEC, an organisation which does important work in enhancing regional economic integration and removing behind-the-border barriers to trade. Importantly, APEC does this through promoting business linkages and voluntary means rather than imposing binding legal rules. This might appeal to the Trump administration. If so, we could yet see the US seek to take a stronger role in APEC as part of its economic commitment to the region.

Source:

Australia, Trump, and the TPP, Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, Nov 29, 2016

About the author  ⁄ AmCham Vietnam

AmCham is an independent association of companies with the objective of promoting trade and investment between Vietnam and the U.S. With two chapters, one in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Hanoi, our membership of 700 companies and 1,500 representatives is unified by a commitment to promote trade and investment between Vietnam and the United States.

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