Sunday, February 24, 2013

More on TPP, and RCEP, and Japan and China and South Korea

Paul Sracic and Richard Katz have kindly corrected my error regarding the 90-day prior notification to—not approval from—Congress, while reminding me that it is no longer required by law since trade promotion (fast-track) authority (TPA) expired in 2007 but the Obama administration is respecting it any way since it will be seeking fast-track authority when it seeks ratification. Thanks. It’s a slippery road from a technical error to rumormongering if I don’t check the facts with an authoritative source. And it’s unporofessional.

Paul’s substantive point, actually, is that that TPA will be harder to secure than TPP ratification itself because it can be filibustered while ratification under TPA cannot. Paul also mentioned that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) pushed by ASEAN is “portrayed as a competitor or threat to TPP.” in the US media. Let’s hope that he amplifies that point in an op-ed or something of the sort. In the meantime, the following was my more general take on the proliferation of FTAs.

Now that everyone—and I mean literally everyone—agrees that the Doha Round is dead, FTA is the name of the game, and there's a lot of (positive) competition going on among the various efforts. The US and EU plant a kicking tee for an FTA? All the more reason for the Abe administration to finesse its way into the TPP negotiations, which in turn is surely pushing China and South Korea to move forward on the trilateral FTA with Japan.

If throwing your hat into the TPP negotiations is enough to help China and South Korea to put domestically combustible history and sovereignty issues aside to negotiate with Japan on a prospective FTA, then it should be more than enough to convince them to move forward with RCEP, a development for which the rest of the prospective RCEP members will offer their unconditional support for commercial, geoeconomic, and geopolitical reasons.

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