WASHINGTON, June 20, 2012 -The United States, together with the other eight countries that make up the TPP ‑ the Trans-Pacific Partnership ‑ invited Mexico to join the negotiations of this initiative on Monday. Canada joined the “club” a day later. Japan is still a possibility.
“This is one of the free trade initiatives that’s most ambitious in the world and would foster integration of the Asia Pacific region, one of the regions with the greatest dynamism in the world. And this region negotiating the TPP represents 26 of the world’s GDP, 15 percent of exports and 12 of imports,” noted President Felipe Calderón during the G20 meeting. He made the announcement during a joint press conference with President Barack Obama in Los Cabos, Mexico on Monday.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an expansion of the trade agreement initially known as “P-4” and begun in 2006 by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. Later on, Australia, the United States, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam joined in.
“But most importantly, at this time of recession in some areas of the world, of a slowdown in others, the TPP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership, perhaps represents the greatest potential area of growth in an entire decade,” Calderon said.
Little wonder then that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Tuesday that his country also wants to be part of such a promising international trade agreement. With the Doha Round of the WTO on life support, TPP offers the best hope for global trade expansion.
But Harper faces several challenges from import policies that protect Canadian dairy, poultry and egg sectors.
In a joint statement, Harper and President Barack Obama said that they shared the goal of “expeditiously” reaching a “high standard agreement that will build on the commitments of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).” That 1994 agreement phased out many trade barriers between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
Asked if there were any conditions attached to Canada’s entry to the TPP talks, Harper said that his country had “not agreed to any specific measures.”
Japan is deliberating whether to join the TPP, while other nations are still discussing whether or not they should ask Japan to join.
Speaking in Tokyo on Monday, former U.S. Trade Ambassador Clayton Yeutter said Japan should be invited to join for several reasons. “The first is that all of its neighbors are either already in TPP or will be there in the future. If Japan does not join, it will be severely disadvantaged in competing with those neighbors in global trade.
“That should be particularly evident with Korea, which assuredly will ask soon to join.” And it will be especially evident if and when China should join, which Yeutter described as a “definite possibility” within the next decade.
Most importantly, Yeutter says TPP could provide a “jump start” for Japan’s ailing economy because the economic impact of TPP will be larger than that of NAFTA.
Yeutter encouraged an invitation to Japan to join TPP because “other countries need Japan to be involved in order to make the economic potential of TPP truly meaningful.”
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