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Shaping a New Political-Economic Order in the Asia-Pacific? The TPP, RCEP, and AIIB
The UC Berkeley Institute of East Asian Studies presents a conference analyzing the issue of the TPP in American lections as well as the larger trade relations of which it is a part.
The TPP has become one of the flashpoints in the current American elections. This conference, convened by Economics and Political Science Professor Vinod Aggarwal, analyzes not only this issue but the larger trade relations of which it is a part. Despite repeated efforts to bring the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to a conclusion, little progress has been made in wrapping up the round. In July 2014, a so-called Bali Package that addresses trade facilitation efforts was derailed by a dispute between the U.S. and India, and the Trade Facilitation Agreement was only penned after a compromise in November that year. With these problems in the multilateral trading system, the new trend that we have seen both in the Pacific and the Atlantic is the negotiation of so-called “mega” FTAs—multilateral FTAs that involve a large number of participants across vast distances. The goal of these agreements has been to overcome the “noodle bowl” or “spaghetti bowl” by rationalizing the multiplicity of bilateral FTAs that have been negotiated over the last decade.
In early October 2015, twelve countries in Asia and the Americas concluded the TPP. Alongside the US and Canada are three Latin American countries on the Pacific Rim (Chile, Mexico, and Peru), four Southeast Asian countries (Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam), and three traditional US partners in the region (Australia, Japan, and New Zealand). Yet while concluded by negotiators, the agreement has yet to be ratified. Given a highly partisan election year in the U.S., the TPP has become a hotly contested agreement. For outsiders, such as Taiwan or Korea, the question of how to become a member of an eventually ratified TPP looms large. And since TPP is not the only mega-FTA being negotiated, how this accord will fit with others is of key importance.
The other significant trade agreement being negotiated in the Asia-Pacific region is RCEP, consisting of 16 countries known as the ASEAN+6. This grouping brings together the ten member states of ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam), and six of its major regional economic partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand). It still remains to be seen how this agreement will look in terms of institutional characteristics and also how non-members such as Taiwan and the US might join.
Finally, a different but related development is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which was a Chinese led initiative. Here, the question of membership also looms large with countries such as the U.S., Japan, and Taiwan not party to the bank.
Vinod Aggarwal, UC Berkeley
TJ Cheng, College of William and Mary
Hui-Wan Cho, National Chung Hsing University
Gary Hufbauer, The Peterson Institute
David Kang, University of Southern California
Saori Katada, University of Southern California
Seungjoo Lee, Chung-Ang University
Chyungly Lee, National Chengchi University
Da-Nian Liu, The Chung Hua Institute for Economic Research
Amitendu Palit, National University of Singapore
John Ravenhill, University of Waterloo
Mireya Solis, The Brookings Institution
Takashi Terada, Waseda University
Chen-Dong Tso, National Taiwan University
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