The Obama administration is looking to finalize its much-anticipated Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation regional trade agreement that, if successful, will expand American exports and economic influence in Asia.
As we noted previously, the TPP is still facing many challenges as negotiations draw to a close. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations recently unveiled plans for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would be the world’s largest-ever regional trade agreement.
The partnership includes ASEAN’s 10 member states as well as Australia, China, Japan, India, South Korea and New Zealand. Its creation raises several questions for the future of the TPP – namely, can the US-led agreement thrive alongside Asian-organized, competing trading blocs, especially if those blocs include China and exclude the US?
Some believe that competing pro-China and pro-US treaties may escalate current economic tension in the region, rather than alleviating it. The potential conflict also presents an especially tricky situation for Australia, whom the US sees as playing a key role in nurturing American economic activity in Asia.