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The Emergence of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Emergence of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the largest regional trade accord in history.  It finally emerged after years of negotiations between the US and eleven Pacific Rim nations.  It now faces months of scrutiny in a politically divided Congress, although the threat of amendments or a filibuster will not be an issue due to the success of the fast-track trade authority.

The reason the US joined the TPP is to increase access to growing markets in Asia and the Pacific.  In order to promote freer international trade in the Pacific Rim, it would eliminate thousands of import tariffs and other barriers to international trade.  It would impose stringent environmental and labor standards, as well as establish uniform rules on intellectual property rights.  In addition to addressing traditional trade issues, the deal also highlights modern issues regarding ecommerce and internet access.

The American participation in TPP is a result of President Obama’s “Asia-Pivot” foreign policy, which focuses on strengthening the bond between the US and its Pacific trading partners.  It has economic benefits as well as security benefits, as it promotes an Asia-Pacific security framework.  This in turn will reduce regional instability and increase American influence and leadership in the Pacific.

China is not part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  In the past, it viewed the deal as a threat to its regional influence.  But recently, senior Chinese officials hinted at their interest in participating in negotiations at some point.  In the meantime, China is seeking its own trade agreements in the region.  Although the TPP initially challenges China’s influence, the hope is that the deal’s open writing style will encourage China and other nations to someday join.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is crucial to the economic growth of the US and Pacific Rim nations.  It will ensure free and fair trading practices, increasing US access to Asian and Pacific markets.  The deal will also guard against China’s growing power in the region.  Congress should approve the TPP if it wants to maintain the US’ economic standing and security influence in the Asia-Pacific.