A TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP) WITHOUT THE U.S.?
The President signed an order on January 23, 2017 withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Because the original TPP deal required the ratification of TPP members comprising at least 85 percent of the GDP of the entire TPP grouping, without the U.S., a new version of the TPP agreement would be needed for it to take effect. However, a TPP agreement without the U.S. is still relevant and would have significant economic value. The remaining Parties include four of the world’s 20 largest economies — Japan, Canada, Australia, and Mexico — alongside significant emerging economies like Vietnam and Malaysia. With that economic value in mind, the 11 existing TPP members, joined by China and South Korea, met in Chile on March 14-15 to discuss: (a) the possibility of a TPP agreement without the U.S., (b) the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as the TPP alternative and, (c) the Free Trade Area for the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).
Some observers have expressed concern that countries in Asia will proceed with trade deals that exclude the U.S., consequently making American products and services less competitive in the region. Specifically, the US withdrawal from the TPP will help to strengthen China’s economic leadership position in the Asia Pacific with its key role as a member of trade negotiations on RCEP and the FTAAP. A focus on RCEP would work in China’s favor because China has long preferred the alternative deal over TPP.