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Chile Meeting Focuses on Future Asia-Pacific Trade

Representatives from the 12 countries that negotiated the Trans-Pacific Partnership (The TPP), in addition to China and South Korea, met last week in Chile to determine how to proceed with a regional trade deal after President Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement in January. The US was represented at the meeting by the US Ambassador to Chile. The Chile meeting is a sign efforts to find an alternative Asia-Pacific trade pact are moving ahead, with China now likely to take a more prominent role. Negotiators are expected to build on the base of existing trade agreements or the proposed 16 country Southeast Asian-backed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) that is led by China. 

Australia is part of RCEP but so is India and while they offer huge potential trade growth, India is also a focus of considerable restraint to change as we have found out with our Free Trade Agreement with India. The US has never been a member of RCEP. 

At the same time as the trade meeting in Chile was taking place, officials from the China‑led 16 nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) concluded their 17th round of negotiations in Kobe, Japan. This was the first round of RCEP talks since the US withdrew from the TPP.

Some progress was made in the talks but RCEP participants continue to disagree on tariff reduction levels and intellectual property rights, raising questions about whether negotiations can conclude by the end of 2017, despite the opportunities the failure of the TPP now presents. RCEP participants include Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India, plus the 10 ASEAN members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

(Tuesday 21 March 2017)

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