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U.S., China Have Diverging ‘Vision’ for Pacific Trade

U.S., China Have Diverging ‘Vision’ for Pacific Trade

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. will continue to focus on its own blueprint for a comprehensive Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), according to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.

Speaking at the APEC Summit in Beijing, Froman told reporters that a China-backed “vision” for Asia-Pacific free trade is only a “long-term aspiration, not the launch of a new FTA (free trade area).”

“It’s a reaffirmation of a long-term aspiration for the region that’s to be achieved through other ongoing negotiations,” he said.

Froman remarks define an on-going divergence in the approach to a Pacific regional trade accord by the two largest trade players in the region, the U.S. and China.

Beijing has thrown its support behind the FTAAP idea, while the U.S. is working towards crafting the long-sought 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which excludes China.

According to media reports, a draft final communique of the Beijing-hosted summit prominently mentions the importance of FTAAP calling for steps to be taken to “translate the FTAAP from a vision to reality” and craft a “strategic study.”

In response, Froman said, the TPP remains “a priority” and that it would serve as a “building block” for the FTAAP, which has a 2025 target date.

“TPP of course is the major focus of our economic pillar of the rebalance to this region,” he said, referring to the White House’s publically-stated goal of giving greater attention to the Asia-Pacific area.

“We certainly view TPP as our contribution to expanding trade and integrating the region,” he said, adding that, despite sluggish negotiations and frustrating snags, the TPP discussions have made “very significant progress”, but he refused to be drawn on a timetable for completing the process.

11/18/2014

Transpac Trade Deal Forecasted By Years End

Los Angeles, CA – Momentum is reportedly building toward the successful drafting of  Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement by the end of the year.

Talks between representative of the 12 nations involved have resumed in Sydney, Australia, with Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb, host of the current round of talks, telling the media that reports from attending trade ministers convey that “there does seem to be a real head of steam.”

All signs, he said, point to a trade agreement being forged “by the end of the year.”

 

If agreed upon, a TPP, which has been negotiated for several years, would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and hundreds of billions of dollars in goods and services trade.

According to US Trade Representative Mike Froman, trade ministers had been in “almost constant” talks since the last TPP meeting in Singapore in May.

“We are enjoying a great deal of momentum and focus across the board, and it’s up to us to seize that momentum and make sure that this meeting is maximally productive,” he said.

Over the past year, talks slowed while the Washington and Tokyo ironed out several key ‘sticking points’ including Japanese tariffs on agricultural imports and access to Japan’s auto market for US-made vehicles.

“The issues left at the end are often times the most challenging but now is the time to start working through those and finding solutions,” Froman said, adding the TPP “is within our grasp.”

The 12 prospective TPP members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the US.

10/27/2014

‘Significant Progress’ Seen in Recent TPP Talks

Washington, DC – The recent negotiations between the 12 Pacific Rim nations crafting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement “made significant progress” on proposed rules for state-owned enterprises despite differences over tariffs remaining one of the obstacles to a final deal.

Spanning ten days in Hanoi, the talks “spent successive rounds trying to narrow the gaps,” said US delegation leader, Barbara Weisel, US Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The TPP would create a free-trade zone from Australia to Peru with $28 trillion in economic output, or 39 percent of the global total. The deal is seen as a major component of the White House’s effort to bolster boost US exports.

The pact, would be the biggest trade deal in US history. The TPP “goes beyond typical trade agreements that focus on reducing tariffs, and highlights issues such as stricter safeguards for patents and copyrights and leveling the playing field for companies that compete with government-backed businesses,” said Weisel.

Responding to the status of the TPP talks, US Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs Myron Brilliant said, “Now is the time to seize upon the extensive economic benefits that the TPP offers every participating country.”

All parties to the negotiations, he said following a recent USCOC event, “must show the political courage required to make the hard decisions needed to conclude the TPP negotiations soon, as this will not get any easier with time.”

Commenting on what he called the “importance of crafting a high-standard, comprehensive trade agreement,” Brilliant said, “If Japan, the United States, or any negotiating partner cannot meet the high standards of the TPP on market access or rules, then the overall ambition of the agreement will be lowered to the detriment of every nation’s interests. We should all guard against that outcome.”

The proposed TPP’s geopolitical importance, he concluded, “is unmistakable. While we must not subordinate commercial priorities to foreign policy goals, the TPP’s geostrategic importance should strengthen our resolve to achieve an ambitious, comprehensive agreement.”

The countries covered by the trade pact are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the US.

China, which has been excluded from the TPP, is separately moving on trade talks with countries such as South Korea, Japan and Australia.

09/30/2014