Daily Management Review

As China Eyes APEC Trade Leadership, Pacific Rim Leaders Scramble for Trade Options in Trump Era


11/19/2016




As China Eyes APEC Trade Leadership, Pacific Rim Leaders Scramble for Trade Options in Trump Era
As a looming Donald Trump presidency in the United States sounded a possible death knell for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), leaders of Pacific rim nations scrambled to find new free-trade options.
 
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that brings together leaders whose economies represent 57 percent of global gross domestic product, expects to host U.S. President Barack Obama, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Russian President Vladimir Putin who are due to arrive, after lower-level meetings.
 
Trump called for curbs on immigration and steeper tariffs on products from China and Mexico and labeled the TPP a job-killing "disaster" while campaigning for the presidential election which he won.
 
Attempts to win congressional approval for the deal that was signed by 12 economies in the Americas and Asia-Pacific, but excluded China, have been discarded by the Obama administration even though he championed the TPP as a way to counter China's rise. The agreement as currently negotiated cannot come to fruition without U.S. approval.
 
By promoting the Beijing-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which as it stands excludes the Americas, China's Xi is selling an alternate vision for regional trade. China would be happy to take over the United States' role as global free-trade promoter, the Obama administration has said.

"We see people around the table here right now talking about if the TPP does not move forward then they're going to have to put their eggs in the RCEP basket," U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told journalists.
 
RCEP would not have labor and environmental protections that are written into TPP, Froman said.
 
Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said that aiming to continue with TPP with or without the United States are Mexico, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.
 
"We determined that our countries will press ahead with this agreement independently of what Washington decides," Guajardo said of the trade deal on Mexican radio. He said Mexico had not ruled out joining RCEP but was focusing on TPP.
 
A joint statement pledging to work harder to put into force the 12-nation accord, was signed between Peru and Japan, on the other hand.
 
It was premature to write the TPP off, and that excluding the United States could prove difficult, Alan Bollard, the APEC secretariat's executive director said.
 
"Actually there were concessions given to the U.S. in those negotiations that they may not want to sign up to without the U.S. in it. Without the U.S., it does change the economics of the whole thing quite a bit," he said in an interview.
 
Peruvian Trade Minister Eduardo Ferreyros said that the 21 members of the APEC will not discuss a trade agreement until the next annual summit in Vietnam but they have finished a study for a regional free-trade area. Both the TPP and RCEP were seen as pathways toward an APEC-wide agreement.
 
CEOs surveyed by the auditing and corporate advisory firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, hoped other trade deals could be reached but not implementing TPP would represent the loss of a potential economic growth accelerator, said Robert Moritz, the global chairman of PwC.
 
"Many of those countries and the companies within them are also looking for bilateral and trilateral trade agreements in addition to or maybe even separate from TPP. So to me it's a question of how do they pivot if in fact TPP does not go forward," Moritz said in an interview.
 
(Source:www.reuters.com) 






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