Asia Minute: Asia Pacific Trade Raising Interest in Washington

Feb 22, 2018

Trade Ministers from TPP member countries in Vladivostok, 2012.
Credit East Asia and Pacific Media Hub U.S. Department of State / Wikimedia Commons

International negotiators have released the final version of a massive trade deal that does not include the United States. The agreement is on track to be signed in two weeks, and it’s getting renewed attention from some lawmakers in Washington. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The trade deal that started out as the Trans Pacific Partnership is one step closer to reality. The final version has eleven countries signing on and one big absence: the United States.

For a little context on what that means, Reuters says the countries involved represent more than 13 percent of the world’s economy. If the United States were part of it, it would be about 40 percent.

After the U.S. dropped out, Japan took on the role of lead negotiator.

But much of the agreement remains the same as when the U.S. was involved—and according to Japan’s chief negotiator, that’s very much on purpose. Kazuyoshi Umemoto says “one of the main reasons…is to induce the U.S. to come back to the deal.”

That approach is now backed by at least half the U.S. Senate. 25 Republican senators have sent a letter to President Trump urging him to “work aggressively to secure reforms that would allow the United States to join the agreement.”

President Trump
Credit Michael Vadon / Wikimedia Commons

When Trump was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last month, he said he would be open to joining TPP “if we did a substantially better deal.”

It’s not yet clear what sort of revisions the president has in mind.

The eleven members who remain in the Asia Pacific trade deal include Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei.