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  • The US-Asia relationship in 2010: Progress and problems

    President Obama’s 10 day tour of Asia’s four largest democracies showed a continued commitment to engage Asia, even if difficult Tea Party politics at home might derail the practicalities of increased regional engagement. For Americans, President Obama brought home deliverables on jobs in India and helped lay groundwork for trade agreements with Korea. For some Asians, there is a feeling of relief that US-Asia relations will continue.

  • Japan’s challenges all begin with ‘D’

    Debate over Japan’s possible participation in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) accession negotiation is about more than an international commercial policy issue alone. Through the TPP, a higher quality, more comprehensive trading agreement may be attained than through regional or bilateral FTAs. Japan may be able to use the TPP to compete with China for regional leadership in an area where China has so far been surging ahead of Japan by virtue of an aggressive FTA strategy.

  • Three reasons why Japan should join the TPP

    The 2010 APEC meeting in Yokohoma ended one month ago but the Japanese media is still discussing whether or not Japan should join the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Prime Minister Kan planned to announce Japan’s accession officially at the leaders’ meeting so as to make it a highlight of APEC 2010 but he had to postpone it until June next year because of strong objections of agricultural protectionists.

  • Trade policy needs to go global

    In East Asia and across the Pacific there has been a growing number of these bilateral agreements and there are as yet unfulfilled ambitions to negotiate various regional ‘free trade’ arrangements, within ASEAN + 3 or within ASEAN + 6 and APEC — where the Free Trade Agreement of Asia and the Pacific and, recently, the Trans Pacific Partnership, extending from a group of small Asia Pacific economies, have gained some favour.

  • APEC 2011: Can the US deliver?

    Delivering an end to the Doha Round is what all APEC governments want to see. It is far more valuable than any progress towards a TPP deal that, if ever concluded, may benefit some but create problems for others.

  • Obama in Asia

    One of the ongoing initiatives within APEC is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) started by four small and open economies: Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. The TPP is being extended to 5 other partner economies: Australia, US, Peru, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Japan has indicated interest in joining. The US hopes to conclude the negotiations in time for the leaders of the nine economies to sign the agreement in Honolulu next year. The TPP is a stepping stone to the ambitious goal of a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP). At the Yokohama Summit, the APEC leaders declared that, ‘now is the time for APEC to translate FTAAP from an aspirational to a more concrete vision’.

  • TPP, trade liberalisation and Japan’s farm lobby

    The Japanese cabinet decided its FTA trade policy on 9th November. The ‘Basic Policy on Comprehensive Economic Partnerships’ also refers to the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ (TPP), stating ‘…it is necessary to act through gathering further information, and Japan, while moving expeditiously to improve domestic environment, will commence consultations with the TPP member countries’.

  • Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership idea a dead end?

    President Obama’s trip to India, Indonesia, the G20 in Korea and APEC in Japan was all about America’s new engagement with Asia. As he said in his address at APEC in Yokohama, America wants to gain its share in the growth of Asian markets as they become a more and more important part of the global economic opportunity. But what does America need to do to achieve that objective?

  • Japan: To TPP or not to TPP

    Japanese politicians are still debating whether Japan should join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPP members are not allowed exclusions. Agriculture is the issue, specifically the domestic political constraints imposed by protection of that sector in Japan. At the same time, the business sector is pushing hard to join.

  • Asia in the ‘new American moment’

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ‘new American moment in international relations’ speech, delivered to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC on September 8, 2010, has been widely discussed and debated. Although the speech did not concern Asia only, it does signal important changes in the way the United States looks at Asia, especially its regional architecture.