The leaders of the nine countries that are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Hawaii and agreed on the broad outlines of a free trade agreement. The current members include the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Peru and Chile.
“landmark, 21st-century trade agreement, setting a new standard for global trade and incorporating next-generation issues.”
Following the APEC forum, President Barack Obama held a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Originally, it was scheduled to be a North American Leaders Summit, but Mexican President Felipe Calderon could not attend due to the death of Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora.
The decision by Japan to begin consultations with TPP countries, followed by the news that Canada and Mexico are also seeking to join negotiations, has given the trade agreement a real boost. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed their interest and stated that,
“Along with Japan’s similar announcement this week, the desire of these North American nations to consult with TPP partners demonstrates the broadening momentum and dynamism of this ambitious effort toward economic integration across the Pacific.”
“We recognize the TPP as a means to further strengthen those ties and contribute to what promises to become a broadly-based vehicle for economic integration in the region.”
“There is a very strict dress code involved and we are going to be stuffy and old fashioned in enforcing it. When our Leaders said ‘eliminate’ tariffs and other direct barriers to imports, they meant it.”
The Harper government maintains that it will promote and defend Canadian interests, but there are concerns that supply management could be used as a bargaining chip to secure a spot in the TPP. In his article, Is Harper putting dairy and poultry protection on the table in trade talks?, Steven Chase reported that,
“A former senior Canadian trade official said expanding trade with Asia is not the Harper government’s only reason for joining the Trans-Pacific talks.”
“John Weekes, Canada’s chief NAFTA negotiator, said Ottawa can’t afford to be left out of talks that appear to be offering signatories a deeper economic relationship with the U.S. than can be found in the North American free-trade agreement.”
“What we’re talking about here ~ if it really does become what Obama says it will be ~ is we’re renegotiating NAFTA in the same way we renegotiated the Canada-U.S. FTA.”
In his article, We’re neglecting our North American neighbors, Robert Pastor described the TPP as a flawed strategy and stressed that the road to completing an agreement would be long.
“Obama should give priority to forging a seamless market with Canada and Mexico. But for the second time in two years, the North American leaders postponed their summit without setting a new date.”
“The three leaders have shown little imagination or even interest in dealing with a continental agenda.”
“the TPP will divert scarce political capital and attention from North America.”
“The fastest way to create jobs and double exports is for the three governments to work together on continental plans for transportation, education, and infrastructure.”
If the TPP’s purpose is to put pressure on China to open its market, that won’t work” and instead suggested that, “A reinvigorated North America is more likely to get China’s attention.”
The US aims to isolate and subordinate China in part through constructing a region-wide legal regime that serves the interests of, and is enforceable by, the US and its corporations.”