As TPP Grinds To A Halt, Asian Countries Start Focusing On Rival Trade Agreement RCEP

from the more-important-in-the-short-term dept

Recently, Techdirt has written dozens of stories about the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). That's largely because it seemed to be coming to a conclusion, after many years of negotiations, and so it was important to capture the last-minute twists and turns -- and the dirty deals -- as they happened. But as we reported a few weeks ago, that final breakthrough and completion never happened. Instead, we had the "Maui meltdown", when a whole bunch of old and new problems raised their heads, with the result that TPP may have missed a key deadline that means it won't be happening soon, if ever. That may have seemed an extravagant claim, but it is a sentiment that is gradually beginning to spread among commentators in Asia. Here, for example, is The Diplomat, a specialist title covering that part of the world:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is in trouble. Trade ministers failed last month to conclude the massive 12-nation trade deal by their hoped-for summer deadline, putting negotiations in danger of collapse.
The Straits Times offers a very similar view from Singapore:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seems to be in deep trouble. Earlier this month, negotiators in North America tried to resolve differences over auto parts which were -- along with issues on dairy and sugar -- among the key obstacles to the deal which was meant to be finalised last month in Hawaii.

But as the weeks tick by, the chances are dwindling that these obstacles can be overcome in time to get the agreement to the United States Congress for approval before the US presidential primary elections begin in earnest in February next year.

And everyone seems to agree that once the primaries begin, the TPP is off the agenda indefinitely.
Another specialist title for Asia, Nikkei Asian Review, goes further, and makes the following comment:
The truth is that the TPP is a second-best option for Asia that will create significant adjustment problems, especially for smaller countries. The priority for Asia should be the RCEP, and if the U.S. and other countries want closer trading relations with Asian countries, it should be in that context.
Techdirt introduced the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) back in June, pointing out that it could end up even worse than TPP. But while TPP is at a standstill, RCEP seems to be moving forwards, as this article in The Jakarta Post explains:
Southeast Asian countries and their trading partners will continue their talks on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) this October as China and Japan eventually agreed on certain thresholds for import duties on Monday.

The agreement between the two countries, which do not yet have bilateral free-trade agreements, will be a milestone for the RCEP as the duties had become one of stumbling blocks for the talks, which first began in 2013.
The biggest difference between TPP and RCEP is that China is part of the latter, but not of the former, while for the US, it's the other way around. China therefore has a big incentive to make RCEP happen quickly, and seems to be grasping the opportunity opened up by TPP's latest problems. Here's what Australia's Financial Review writes in an article entitled "Asian countries shift focus to regional trade after TPP delay":
Australia has focussed more on the US-led TPP in recent months on the basis that it would set important new principles for 21st century commerce in areas including services and regulation but the government now appears to be less confident of any swift conclusion to the TPP.

A participant in the meeting said China appeared to be seizing the opportunity to bring the RCEP to a conclusion after it had been seen to be languishing. [Australia's trade minister] Robb supported the Chinese objective of pushing for a conclusion.
The article also notes that RCEP has a big advantage in that it is not trying to define an ambitious set of new trading rules, as TPP is, but instead is merely attempting to harmonize existing trade agreements among RCEP's 16 nations, which also include another major economy absent from TPP -- India. The Financial Review column concludes with another small but telling indicator that Asian interest may be shifting away from TPP and towards RCEP:
Thai deputy commerce minister Apiradi Tantraporn said that while Thailand might want to join the TPP in the future, the RCEP was more important in the short term.
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Filed Under: asia, rcep, tpp, trade agreements

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  • identicon
    Guardian, 1 Sep 2015 @ 3:40am


    so 5 eyes expansion isnt happening , i f33l so ch0k3d up

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 1 Sep 2015 @ 4:00am

    The race is on: Can the Asians finalize this agreement before the lobbyists find out about it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 5:30am

    Trade ... yeah right

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Josh Taylor, 1 Sep 2015 @ 6:30am

    "TPP Grinds to a halt..."

    I would check again because they are close to finishing it over the phone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:36am

    no they find some place nice and warm to finalize it on there tax payer money, but at there real pay master benefit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 7:37am

    "The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) seems to be in deep trouble."
    I'll get out the party poppers, though I won't be letting them off just yet. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    any moose cow word, 1 Sep 2015 @ 11:27am

    I hope TPP fails. As much as I hate to say it, the US government and industries need to be put in their place. True economic prosperity is created by making and doing the work for yourself first. However, the development of Asia came in part from US companies looking to offshore manufacturing and development for higher short-term profits. With all the knowledge Asians gained from this enterprise, it was only a matter of time before they started doing much of the work for themselves without the US middlemen taking a huge cut of the profits.

    Eventually, the US will no longer be the self-imposed center of the global economy. The TPP being displaced by a major Asian trade pack with India and China, and without us, could very well be that tipping point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 1 Sep 2015 @ 11:46am

    We need a trade agreement *now* if we hope to initiate trade with any Pacific rim countries.

    (Do I need '/s'?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David E.H. Smith, 2 Sep 2015 @ 3:43pm


    CONSERVATIVEs, NDP, LIBERALs, Support Corporate Canada’s Punishing the harmless voters, both Native & non Native by way of SECRET TPP, et al, Tribunals’ Punitive Penalties, Fines, Costs & Awards
    GREENs Against TPP & other Global Corporate Treaties/’Arrangements’ & Clauses Giving Power to Global Corporate Economy to Make Secret Changes and Any & All Discretionary Self-Improvements without Notification, Discussion & Approval and at Any Time.
    TRUE: X ,or, False: ___.

    Corporate Canada’s Traditional, BIG 3 Parties, NDR, LIBs, CONs, Desperate for Superseding Global Corporate Treaties/’Arrangements’ to Wipe Out Native Canadian, et al, ‘Gains’; Only GREEN Party Standing Up Against Global Corporate Economy’s Insider Trading & SECRET ‘Death-Star-Chamber’ ISDS Tribunals, et al.

    Can the Voters make the DISTINCTION between: the bullying politicians, both; Native & non Native, who need to continue to Deprive their members of the Information (eg. The WAD Accord’s Compensation) & to Punish those who have been Deprived of the Info and those who need to Share the Info in order to protect the Human Rights of Unborn Native Canadians, et al?
    Corporate Canada’s Big 3 Parties do NOT want YOU to make the DISTINCTION.

    The Traditional Big 3 Parties vs. GREENs & Quebec;
    ANTI-Globalists (GREENs) PROHIBITED from Debating TPP, et al, in Corporate Canada’s Election ‘Debates’.

    For NO to Global Treaties/”Arrangements’ just VOTE for the GREEN Party’ Canada’s Big 3 Traditional Parties tell Voters.

    How long have Global Corporate Associates been ‘Passing’ Legislation in Anticipation of Suing Once Ratified? ‘Trickle’ Up & Out Economics.
    Corporate ‘U.S.’ is desperate to Legitimize & Globalize (TPP/TTIP/CETA) ‘Full Invasion’; HSBC’s money laundering, Enron’s insider trading, Chase Bank’s fraud, etc. after its 2008 ‘Tactical Probe’ into Deregulation & Buying Short on Designer Meltdown leads to Global Recession, but, Non-Guilty. Corporate Canada & its Traditional Big 3 Political Parties are Anxious to increase its play time under the ‘skirts’ of Corporate U.S. in the International Economic Glitter Game.

    After New Zealand’s PM admitted that medicines will cost more due to the TPP, have the citizens of New Zealand & TPP, noticed PM Harper cuts funding for Canadian health care by $36 million & unchallenged by other parties, exacerbation leading to privatizing health care, etc. to pay TPP penalties to Global Corporate Assocs'.

    TPP nations, et al, need ‘good corporate citizens’ that respect our legislation & need to ‘out’ bad corporate voters via shareholder meetings; ‘persona non grata’?

    Americans, Japanese, et al, look forward to working with Savvy Slave Trading Malaysians & Slick Cultural ‘Genociding’ Canadians. ‘But, we didn’t know’.
    Traditional Canadian Parties Demanding Supplicance to Corporate Canada & its Global Corporate Assocs. is an unholy sin?

    Will Pope Francis & other leaders Intercede with prayer against PM Harper, Corporate Canada, The Canadian Establishment, et al, for Continuing to Blame & Punish those who are continuing to be Deprived of the Due Diligence Info and Continuing its Cultural Genocide.
    by David E.H. Smith, ‘Qui tam…’
    FULL Article, see;
    Please consider sharing the enclosed information & questions with 10 friends who will share it with 10 others...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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