28 November 2016
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not simply a trade agreement among 12 Asia-Pacific countries. It is a strategic arrangement using free trade as an anchor. It was signed on Feb 4, 2016, in New Zealand after seven years of hard negotiations.
The TPP originated from the P4 free trade regime set up by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. The United States seized upon this P4 pact to erect an economic edifice to complement the American security umbrella in the region.
The underlying assumption is that, as a wide-ranging partnership, the TPP would serve as a counterweight to the ambition of a rising China. At the same time, the TPP could help open exclusive sectors in places such as Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia, where protectionism, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and ethnic-based affirmative action have restricted US commercial penetration. The bait was the lucrative American market. Consequently, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam joined the P4 countries and the US.
The TPP agreement has 30 chapters, which cover issues far beyond a typical free trade agreement, including the environment, labour standards and SOEs.
… Arunajeet Kaur is a visiting research fellow with the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS Centre) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. This article first appeared in RSIS Commentary.
NTS Centre / Online / Print
Last updated on 28/11/2016