Monday, 21 November 2016

Singapore And The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Update 2 Mar 2017: US pullout from Pacific trade deal hurts confidence: Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong

The US pullout from the Trans-Pacific Partnership hurt confidence in American policies, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, urging Washington to "focus" on its relationship with China.

In an interview with the BBC broadcast on Wednesday, Lee said Singapore was disappointed with President Donald Trump's decision to fulfill a campaign pledge and withdraw the US from the long-negotiated 12-country trade deal.

Singapore placed great strategic importance on the TPP as the wealthy city-state views US involvement in the region as key to its economic growth and security. The deal was a pillar of former president Barack Obama's pivot to Asia.

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Asian nations try to save TPP trade deal after US pulls out

AUSTRALIA and New Zealand said on Tuesday they hope to salvage the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by encouraging China and other Asian countries to join the trade pact after U.S. President Donald Trump kept a promise to abandon the accord.

The TPP, which the United States had signed but not ratified, was a pillar of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s policy to pivot to Asia.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has touted it as an engine of economic reform, as well as a counter-weight to a rising China, which is not a TPP member.

related: Singapore: US withdrawal from trade pact hurts confidence – PM Hsien Loong

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S'pore to pursue other trade agreements after US pullout from TPP

Singapore will continue to participate in other regional trade integrations initiatives, after the United States indicated it will put out of the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), its Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said on Tue (Jan 24).

On Monday, newly installed US President Donald Trump signed an executive order to remove the country from the trade pact, making good on a pledge to scrap a deal he denounced as a "job killer" and a "rape" of US interests.

The TPP trade pact was promoted by Mr Trump's predecessor and the agreement was signed in 2015 by participating countries - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US & Brunei - but it had not been ratified.

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Asia Looking to Alternative Trade Pacts After US Quits TPP
FILE - A protester holds a sign reading "We oppose Japan to join the TPP negotiation talks" during a rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Tokyo

Governments and business in Asia are preparing to place greater focus on regional trade and economic prospects, following the U.S. decision to withdraw from the 12 nation Trans Pacific Partnership agreement or TPP.

Analysts say alternative multilateral trade pacts including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes China, may fill the ‘vacuum’ left by the absence of TPP.

The decision, which President Donald Trump called a “great thing for the American worker” – had been anticipated by the region as it had been a key pledge by Trump during his election campaign last year.

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China in pole position to shape regional trade agreements after Trump quits TPP
China's President Xi Jinping has mounted a strident defence of economic globalisation, in a major speech at the World Economic Forum

China is in a strong position to set the agenda for trade in the region after US President Donald Trump officially abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, leaving its other 11 members searching for an alternative deal.

So far, two main options have emerged. Australia is pushing for countries like Indonesia and China to join the TPP and salvage an agreement that took more than five years to negotiate, locking in robust standards on labour, intellectual property, food safety and the environment as well as tariff cuts.

Other countries, such as China and Malaysia, are promoting the benefits of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). This was an initiative led by South-east Asian countries to set up a trade deal with key partners in the region; China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, and was being negotiated alongside the TPP. China is pushing for it to be signed this year.

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Singapore’s constant calls for the United States to quickly ratify a landmark Asia-Pacific trade pact underscores the entrepot city’s frustration with the anti-free trade rhetoric that has surfaced in Washington in the course of the current presidential campaign, observers say.

In an interview with the Time magazine published on Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong repeated earlier warnings that a failure by the US Congress to ratify the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would diminish Washington’s standing among Asian trade partners.

President Barack Obama firmly backs the TPP – whose participants account for 40 per cent of the global economy – but it is opposed by both presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

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Singapore And The Trans-Pacific Partnership

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) is a Free Trade Agreement (“FTA”) between 12 countries: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. All 12 TPP countries are members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The TPP was concluded on 5 October 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and signed on 4 February 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand.

The TPP has its roots in the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPSEP), otherwise known as the Pacific 4 (P4) agreement, which came into effect in May 2006 between Singapore, Brunei, Chile and New Zealand. In 2008, the US, Australia and Peru formally indicated their interest in negotiating an FTA with the P4. This FTA became known as the TPP. In 2010, Malaysia and Vietnam formally joined negotiations. This was followed by Mexico and Canada in October 2012 and Japan in July 2013.

"The TPP embodies what Singapore sees as the future of the Asia-Pacific. It will transform the region by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers substantially for both goods and services, encouraging greater investments, and addressing new trade challenges in the modern economy. the TPP has also been deliberately designed to be more-inclusive so that small and medium-sized enterprises can take full advantages of its benefits." - Minister Lim Hng Kiang, Minister of Trade.

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PM Disappointed TPP Unlikely to be Passed

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has expressed disappointment that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) looks “very unlikely” to be pushed through.

At his first Leaders' Retreat in Semarang with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, he noted (14 Nov) that United States (US) President-elect Donald Trump's opposition to the TPP "was quite well known", and the TPP “looks very unlikely, or will not be passed, or ratified now before Jan 21” by US Congress. Mr Trump will be sworn in on 20 Jan.

"He had no sympathy for the TPP at all and I think that's a disappointment to all of us who worked so hard to negotiate the TPP," said PM Lee.

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Singapore ‘disappointed’ TPP may not be ratified after Trump win: PM Lee

Singapore is “disappointed” that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement may not be ratified before US President-elect Donald Trump takes office, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Mon (Nov 14).

“We feel disappointed that the TPP looks very unlikely or will not be passed now, ratified now, before Jan 21 when the new president swears in,” said Mr Lee in a wrap-up interview with S'pore media after a leaders’ retreat with Indonesian President Joko Widodo. His comments came days after US President Barack Obama's administration suspended efforts to win congressional approval for the Asian free-trade deal.

“I do not know what the new president's position will be,” Mr Lee added, but he noted President-elect Trump had stated his position clearly during his campaign trail & that he had "no sympathy" for the TPP.

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Singapore leader Tan agree to push for TPP ratification
Singapore President Tony Tan (left) and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe make a toast at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on Thursday. | POOL / VIA KYODO

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Singaporean President Tony Tan affirmed in Tokyo on Thursday the importance of ratifying and bringing into force the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to prevent a regression in the progress of free trade.

Japan, Singapore and 10 other Pacific Rim nations signed the TPP in February. It effectively requires U.S. ratification to come into force, meaning U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to withdraw from the pact as soon as he takes office in January has put its future in doubt.

“We discussed the economic and strategic importance of the TPP and agreed that it is in the interests of all TPP partners to ensure that the TPP is ratified and enters into force expeditiously,” Tan told a joint press conference after the meeting.

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Panic In Singapore As New Trading Technique Takes Hold

Singapore, with it’s gleaming towers of glass and steel contains more banks and financial companies per square mile than anywhere else in Asia. And recently, there has been an air of desperation not seen in recent times. This is not due to the tensions caused by US elections or the risk of a global recession. No, the big bankers are terrified that online traders now, finally, have access to a trading platform so revolutionary they have been trying to keep it under wraps for many years. Now, these old bankers who held so much power and privilege must make way for a new kind of millionaire, young, working from their phone or laptop and beating the bankers at their own game.

Now, a few very smart people have put together a software system that opens up the potentially lucrative world of binary options trading to anybody, in almost any country, who just has an internet connection and a few minutes per day. And this has made the City bankers so upset of late.

What we are referring to is an online trading method called “Binary Options”. Binary option trading is not new, its been around for a while. But only recently, with regulation relaxed in Singapore have regular, non finance experts been able to start trading with it. In fact, these days with the new software created by Banc de Binary and other brokers, it is easier than ever to setup a trading account. It used to be only used by powerful banks with million dollar budgets. But now, any person with a small amount of cash can enter binary options trading at the click of a mouse or tap of their smartphone. This is the evolution of Finanace and Technology, recently known as the “Fintech Revolution”, putting real trading power into everybody’s hands.

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Singapore will ratify the TPP but trade deal may be difficult to implement without US

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his Facebook that his government will ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) early next year. He said that he would do this despite the US President-Elect Donald Trump’s strong opposition to the trade deal to maintain momentum on the pact and demonstrate that TPP benefits all 12 member countries – including the United States of America (US).

PM Lee is not alone with this view. Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo had earlier expressed similar views. “We determined that our countries will press ahead with this agreement independently of what Washington decides,” he said.

According to news reports, six of the twelve TPP-countries – Mexico, Japan, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore – have indicated that they will continue with the TPP with or without the US.

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Singapore to amend legislation to bring TPP into effect by next year: PM Lee

Singapore will continue with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) despite a “twist in the road”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at a meeting with the leaders from 11 other Pacific Rim countries that are involved in the mega trade deal on Saturday (Nov 19).

Mr Lee also urged partners to carry on with the ratification process, adding that Singapore will amend its legislation to bring the TPP into effect.

“The world is watching carefully how we respond”, said Mr Lee, who advised his counterparts to continue to adopt a long-term view for the TPP. “We should stay on the course and not undo the good work that has been done over the past six years”, he continued.

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What difference will TPP make for Singapore?

The vast majority of people think of free trade agreements from the point of view of consumers. In other words: "Will anything become cheaper?" But those holding out for prices to fall will probably be disappointed.

Economists and experts Insight spoke to, like NUS economics associate professor Davin Chor, agree it is unlikely "that we will see goods becoming significantly cheaper or the new entry of brands into S'pore as a result of the TPP".

This is because the country already has a very open economy, and so additional pacts do not open the floodgates for new goods and services to enter in dramatic fashion.

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4 myths about Trans-Pacific Partnership busted

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was borne out of a belief that free trade benefits the participating countries' economies.

Yet there is skepticism and distrust among various parties on the effectiveness and consequences of signing the TPP.

We explore four arguments against the TPP and how it affects Singapore:
  • Singapore is a pawn without power in TPP negotiations
  • TPP will kill off Singapore's Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • TPP will take away jobs from Singaporeans
  • Businesses will prosper at the expense of workers

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TPP’s death is a triple blow to the government

TPP is dead, but a bitter after-taste lingers on. This is a triple blow to PM Lee:
  • Firstly, he tried to call Trump’s “bluff” as he knew full well that Trump has said he would withdraw from TPP if elected president. But Trump has the last laugh.
  • Secondly, he lobbied hard for Obama to ratify the TPP before the new president comes in on 20 January 2017. But Obama has suspended efforts for a vote deal in Congress for TPP after Trump’s election. Now the fate of TPP lies in President Trump’s hands which will tear it up.
  • Thirdly, PM Lee ignored China’s protestation that TPP is an attempt to contain China under the guise of free trade. This has angered China particularly with his pro-US and anti-China strident remarks following The Hague tribunal’s ruling on the South China Sea.
PM Lee is putting Singapore’s economic and security well-being at risk of China’s possible retaliation not excluding the risk of China’s missiles targeted at Singapore who hosts a US naval base.

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Why is the Trans-Pacific partnership important to PM Lee?

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership during his recent US visit. But what is it, and why does it matter?

If you’ve been following the news, you may have heard Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong emphasise the importance of something called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), during his visit to the United States.

Also this week, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump accused the TPP of allowing Singapore to steal jobs from Americans. His rival candidate, Ms. Hillary Clinton, was formerly in favour of it, but has also spoken out against the TPP.

Trans-Pacific Partnership: The demise of our enquiry?
GE issues – The Trans-Pacific Partnership and our political will
Citizens should question the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Over 1 million signed on petition – Are you concerned over TPP?
The hurt of militarized authoritarianism in S'pore, Afghanistan and the world

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What Does a Trump Presidency Mean for Singapore?

Singapore’s future will be affected by a Trump Presidency and the domestic issues that arise from it.

The world is still reeling from President-elect Donald Trump’s shock win during the 2016 American elections. This has gotten some Singaporeans to wonder, why do we care so much?

It’s because, while the United States is far away, they are a superpower whose domestic issues can affect Singapore. Here’s how:
  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership is Likely to End
  • American Goods May Cost More, Thanks to Trump’s Protectionist Stance
  • Greater Volatility in the Stocks and Bonds Market
  • Cheaper Energy
related: Why is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Important to PM Lee?

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Clock ticking down on TPP deal

The problem is that the TPP is more than a simple trade agreement. Common criticisms, based on information leaks, focus on:
  • Draconian Intellectual Property laws, which will allow pharmaceutical companies to impose high cost on essential medicines, and harsh penalties for even accidental violations (imagine getting a $50,000 fine, because your little brother ripped a video of YouTube for a school project)
  • The off-shoring of jobs, in which cheaper foreign workers can gain access to local jobs. While Singaporeans like to worry about foreigners taking their jobs, remember that the US, Canada, Japan, and so on feel the same way about us: plenty of people in those countries worry about cheaper Singaporeans taking their jobs.
  • The establishment of a system that would allow corporations and private investors to sue governments. For example, imagine a cigarette company deciding to sue the Singapore government, for raising taxes on tobacco. In reality, developed TPP countries like Singapore, Canada, the US and so on are fairly safe from this, as we have the resources to fight back. But poorer TPP countries, like Chile and Peru, may be bullied by powerful corporations in member countries.
  • Workers rights issues are always a worry, with free trade agreements. There is a fear that some companies will use lax regulations to set up sweat shops. While the TPP sets up a regulatory framework on human rights, this has met with skepticism. For example, many Americans protest to Malaysia being accepted as a TPP member, despite labour rights violations.
  • We could go on for quite a bit, but that’s not the point of this article. Suffice it to say that the TPP is controversial.
It’s a toss-up: On the one hand, the TPP means Singaporeans will have the means to find employment in 11 other countries. It also means our businesses will no longer be hampered by our tiny domestic market. On the other, it means making certain concessions to external powers.

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Singapore must introduce Minimum Wage to fulfill Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Last Sunday (Oct 4), the Singapore government signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement with eleven other countries. According to Singapore state media reports, the deal will allow local exporters to have better access to more markets and open up more opportunities for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in TPP countries.

Employment laws must be standardized according to the TPP agreement and this includes a Minimum Wage. Currently, Singapore does not have a Minimum Wage. It remains to be seen if the Singapore government will adhere to the agreement by introducing Minimum Wage.

The exact details of TPP is still shrouded in secrecy and attention has been focused on the flow of unskilled workforces in respective countries as an influx of cheap foreign labour will threaten local wages of developed countries.

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Eyes on trade: TPP RIP

The news that the White House and Republican congressional leaders have given up on passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is welcome. That the TPP would be defeated by Congress if brought to a vote signals that Trojan-horse “trade” agreements that expand corporate power and shrink Americans’ wages are simply no longer politically viable. People power beat the united forces of a U.S. president, the Republican congressional leaders and the entire corporate lobby.

The unremitting push by the Obama administration for the TPP right through this election helped to elect Donald Trump, but Trump has not derailed the TPP – people power united across borders did that. Six years of relentless, strategic campaigning by an international movement of people from the TPP countries united across borders to fight against corporate power is why the TPP is all but dead.

Thanks to years of campaigning by people across this country, since its February 2016 signing, the TPP could not garner a majority of support in the U.S. House of Representatives. And it was clear that the TPP was in trouble in 2015, when Fast Track authority for the TPP barely squeaked through Congress.

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TPP Reduces Human Trafficking and Child Labor to Misdemeanors

Last week, President Obama’s credibility on trade policy took another punch in the neck.

For months, arguments in favor of the huge new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership have fallen flat with the public. His “hit parade of failed arguments” gives the deal an air of desperation. The overwhelming public impression is that TPP is written by and for corporate interests, and has little for workers, communities, or the environment.

The President’s best remaining pitch was his promise of strong enforceable standards for labor and the environment. Last week, that collapsed in a breath-taking display of cynicism.

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What You Need to Know about President Obama’s Trade Agreement

America’s trade policy may seem remote and technical, but it has a significant impact on the strength of our economy and the lives of millions of Americans. If the businesses you buy from everyday also sell their products to customers abroad, they are more likely to expand and support jobs here at home.

Why is that? Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders. Our Made-in-America products and services are in demand, making American exports a vital pillar of our 21st century economy. In fact, exports played an indispensable role in America’s resurgence from the Great Recession.So, when the rules are fair, Americans can out-compete anyone in the world.

Last year, we broke the record in American exports for the fifth year in a row, selling $2.34 trillion in goods and services abroad. And here’s why that’s important: The more we sell abroad, the more higher-paying jobs we support here at home.

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Leveling the playing field for American workers & American businesses

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) writes the rules for global trade - rules that will increase Made-in-America exports, grow the American economy, support well-paying American jobs, and strengthen the American middle class.

TPP will make it easier for American entrepreneurs, farmers, and small business owners to sell Made-In-America products abroad by eliminating more than 18,000 taxes & other trade barriers on American products across the 11 other countries in the TPP—barriers that put American products at an unfair disadvantage today.

The rules of the road are up for grabs in Asia. If we don't pass this agreement and write those rules, competitors will set weak rules of the road, threatening American jobs and workers while undermining U.S. leadership in Asia.

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TPP: What is it and why does it matter?
Governments and large corporations may have hammered out agreements to craft a TPP that suits them - but some see no gain for workers

It involves 12 countries: the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

The pact aims to deepen economic ties between these nations, slashing tariffs and fostering trade to boost growth.

Member countries are also hoping to foster a closer relationship on economic policies and regulation. The agreement could create a new single market something like that of the EU.

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TPP and TIPP trade deals likely ‘dead’ after Donald Trump’s election — but for how long?

A silver lining of Donald Trump’s incoming presidency, at least for progressive Democrats in the US and left-wingers in Europe, is the likely end of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIPP).

Opponents have long protested the massive trade deals between the US, Europe and Asia, arguing they would allow big business to benefit from laxer rules concerning public health, food safety, banking and environmental regulations as well as the ability to sue the government to make up for lost profits.

Trump supporters also saw the deals as a continued threat for jobs and American manufacturing.

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TPP’s Death Won’t Help the American Middle Class

Donald J. Trump has been elected president, and trade as we know it is dead. Specifically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the 12-country trade deal that was opposed by both Trump and by Democrat Bernie Sanders, will not be voted on in Congress before President Obama leaves office. With Trump’s vocal opposition to it and other trade deals, there’s little chance that it will be addressed once he takes office either. “Not only will the TPP undermine our economy, but it will undermine our independence,” Trump said in his “Declaring American Economic Independence” speech back in June, in which he pledged to withdraw the U.S. from the TPP.

But there are many things that are lost with the demise of the TPP, and the withdrawal could actually harm American workers. Specifically, the TPP could have established stringent labor and environmental laws in other countries that could have driven up the cost of labor there, thus making American workers more appealing. In short, by trying to protect American workers by killing TPP, Trump may be actually hurting them by reducing the incentive for companies to create jobs here, says Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a think tank with a favorable view towards trade.

The TPP essentially took NAFTA, the free-trade agreement among Canada, Mexico, and the United States that Trump called “the worst trade deal ever,” and added a whole bunch of countries, including Australia, Vietnam, Japan, and Malaysia. But TPP’s labor and environmental standards went far beyond NAFTA’s, establishing stronger rules for child labor, wages, and protecting unions and the environment. Countries such as Vietnam, for instance, would have been required to comply with the International Labor Organization’s principles prohibiting child labor and forced labor, and would have been required to permit collective bargaining and establish a minimum wage. Under the TPP, labor standards would have been enforceable under dispute settlement, which meant that if countries didn’t live up to TPP standards, the U.S. could have retaliated by imposing higher tariffs. (Labor groups were skeptical that these new enforcement mechanisms would have been effective.)

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Australia signals support for Chinese-led trade deals to replace TPP
A Chinese container ship comes in to berth in Sydney. The Australian government has muted its support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership since Donald Trump’s election victory. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

The Australian government has effectively cut its losses in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, signalling support for Chinese-led trade deals before a meeting this weekend of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group in Peru.

In an opinion piece published by the Australian Financial Review on Thursday and in an interview with the Financial Times before Apec, the trade minister, Steve Ciobo, said Australia would support a proposal being advanced by the Chinese government, the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.

“With the future of the TPP looking grim, my ministerial counterparts and I will work to conclude a study on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, which sets out agreed actions towards a future free trade zone,” Ciobo said in the piece published on Thursday.

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A likely beneficiary of Trump’s tough talk on trade: China

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's tough talk on trade could just give China a big boost.

Expectations of the eventual demise of the suspended Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal have surged since Trump's victory, a development that analysts say will pave the way for China's trade expansion with its own mega-deal.

The U.S. and 11 countries in the Pacific region last yearreached an accordon the TPP deal to liberalize trade among the participating countries and set common standards and cut barriers. President Barack Obama's trade office has however suspended its effort to pass the deal before Trump takes office.

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China's gain? The collapse of the TPP could be bad for everyone
A copy of the local Chinese magazine Global People with a cover story that translates to 'Why did Trump win' is seen with a front cover portrait of US president-elect Donald Trump at a news stand in Shanghai on November 14, 2016

No one is sure what President-elect Donald Trump will do to simultaneously boost the American economy and the country's standing abroad, but one of his apparent moves will be to cancel the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In the wake of Trump's election, that proposed free-trade bloc — which would include 12 countries accounting for more than a third of global trade — has been more or less pronounced dead.

Although extensive analysis on the terms of the deal had concluded that any of its economic benefits would likely be meager, proponents of the deal had insisted it was a key component of the American geopolitical "pivot" toward the Asia-Pacific region.

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Good News For China? No TPP For The U.S., And Now Vietnam

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump is not the only one who wants to take a step back from joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal, so does Vietnam. The country’s leader announced it will not ratify the Asia-Pacific trade deal at the 14th National Assembly on Thursday.

“Vietnam has prepared to join the 12-nation TPP. However, as the U.S. has announced to suspend the deal, there would be no sufficient conditions for Vietnam to submit its proposal for ratification,” said Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

With more than five years of negotiation, TPP, one of the most ambitious free trade deals negotiated between developing and developed countries, officially entered into an agreement in February. Countries have two years to ratify this more than 2,000-pages pact, involving higher labor standards, intellectual property rights, environmental rules and other issues. None of the 12 countries have completed the ratification process so far. Japan, the second-largest economy after the U.S in this treaty, voted to ratify the deal this month. Prime Minister Abe is meeting Trump in New York today, where TPP is likely to be discussed.

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Vietnam walks away from American-backed trade deal TPP
Vietnam has decided not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with the trade deal's future uncertain under incoming US President Donald Trump

"The United States has announced it is suspending the submission of TPP to the parliament so there are not sufficient conditions for Vietnam to submit its proposal for ratification," Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told the National Assembly, according to Reuters.

The TPP deal is a project of incumbent US President Barack Obama aimed at increasing American exports. The future of the trade deal is highly uncertain in the Republican-dominated Congress and with President-elect Trump calling the project a "disaster". "TPP is now in the history dustbin for sure," Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told Politico last week.

Asian countries have reacted differently to the increasing likelihood of the trade treaty failure. Malaysia is focusing on a China-led trade agreement, while Japan has been seeking to revive the TPP.

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Vietnam Gives Up On TPP, China Now Stronger Than Ever

Vietnam has abandoned plans to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact following the election of Donald Trump, the first in a series of likely repercussions on relations between Hanoi and Washington.

The Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, told the National Assembly that the TPP would not be sent for ratification.

“The United States has announced it suspends the submission of TPP…so there are not sufficient conditions for Vietnam to submit its proposal for ratification,” he said in response to a question at the assembly session in Hanoi.

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Expose the TPP

The TPP means that government would not work for working families and the middle class but it can take effect only if the U.S. Congress approves it. The TPP’s fate in Congress is uncertain, but a massive corporate coalition is pushing for a vote after the election in a lame duck session of Congress.
  • At the heart of the TPP are new rights for thousands of multinational corporations to sue the U.S. government before a panel of three corporate lawyers. These lawyers can award the corporations unlimited sums to be paid by U.S. taxpayers, including for the loss of expected future profits. The corporations need only convince the lawyers that a U.S. law or safety regulation violates their TPP rights. Their decisions are not subject to appeal and the amount awarded has no limit.
  • With Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Japan, Brunei, and six other nations, TPP covers 40% of the global economy, but was negotiated in secret with hundreds of corporate advisors while the public was locked out.
  • Modeled after past trade deals that already cost millions of American jobs, it would make it easier for corporations to ship jobs overseas. A recent study showed TPP would lower wages for 90% of Americans.
  • The TPP will also require us to import food that does not meet U.S. safety standards, limit policies to combat climate change, and raise drug prices.
  • For the first time, the presidential nominees of both parties, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, oppose a major “trade” agreement. Most congressional Democrats and a large bloc of congressional Republicans also oppose the TPP.

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Obama pushes trade in Asia, but has 2016 killed the TPP?

It was their last, best chance at a big, bipartisan deal: President Barack Obama and congressional Republican leaders all agreed on free trade.

Just a little more than a year ago, that philosophical alignment looked like enough for Obama's signature trade deal and centerpiece of his Asian pivot policy -- the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership -- to clear Congress.

Then the 2016 presidential campaign intervened. Now, as Obama participates in his last Southeast Asian summit to promote the pivot and its massive trade pact, the TPP looks like it's headed to the political graveyard.

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President Obama: The TPP would let America, not China, lead the way on global trade

Over the past six years, America’s businesses have created more than 14 million new jobs. To keep this progress going, we need to pursue every avenue of economic growth. Today, some of our greatest economic opportunities abroad are in the Asia-Pacific region, which is on its way to becoming the most populous and lucrative market on the planet. Increasing trade in this area of the world would be a boon to American businesses and American workers, and it would give us a leg up on our economic competitors, including one we hear a lot about on the campaign trail these days: China.

Of course, China’s greatest economic opportunities also lie in its own neighborhood, which is why China is not wasting any time. As we speak, China is negotiating a trade deal that would carve up some of the fastest-growing markets in the world at our expense, putting American jobs, businesses and goods at risk.

This past week, China and 15 other nations met in Australia with a goal of getting their deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, done before the end of this year. That trade deal won’t prevent unfair competition among government-subsidized, state-owned enterprises. It won’t protect a free and open Internet. Nor will it respect intellectual property rights in a way that ensures America’s creators, artists, filmmakers and entrepreneurs get their due. And it certainly won’t enforce high standards for our workers and our environment.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was a secretive, multinational trade agreement that threatened to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The agreement was finally abandoned in November 2016 following the U.S. Presidential election. The main problems were two-fold:
  • Digital Policies that Benefit Big Corporations at the Expense of the Public: The IP chapter would have had extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of expression, right to privacy and due process, as well as hindering peoples' abilities to innovate. Other chapters of the agreement encouraged your personal data to be sent across borders with limited protection for your privacy, and allowed foreign corporations to sue countries for laws or regulations that promote the public interest.
  • Lack of Transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and was shrouded in secrecy.
The twelve nations that negotiated the TPP were the U.S., Japan, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. The TPP contained a chapter on intellectual property covering copyright, trademarks, and patents. The official release of the final TPP text confirmed what we had long feared: that U.S. negotiators pushed for the adoption of copyright measures far more restrictive than currently required by international treaties, including the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).

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Trans-Pacific Partnership
Leaders of prospective member states at a TPP summit in 2010

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) or Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is a trade agreement among twelve of the Pacific Rim countries—notably not including China. The finalized proposal was signed on 4 February 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand, concluding seven years of negotiations. It is currently awaiting ratification to enter into force. The 30 chapters of the agreement aim to "promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in the signatories' countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections." The TPP contains measures to lower both non-tariff and tariff barriers to trade, and establish an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.

The TPP began as an expansion of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4) signed by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, and Singapore in 2005. Beginning in 2008, additional countries joined the discussion for a broader agreement: Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States, and Vietnam, bringing the total number of countries participating in the negotiations to twelve. Current trade agreements between participating countries, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, will be reduced to those provisions that do not conflict with the TPP or provide greater trade liberalization than the TPP. The United States government considers the TPP a companion agreement to the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a broadly similar agreement between the U.S. and the European Union.

Participating nations aimed at completing negotiations in 2012, but the process was prolonged by disagreements over contentious issues, including agriculture, intellectual property, and services and investments. They finally reached agreement on 5 October 2015. Implementing the TPP has been one of the trade agenda goals of the Obama administration in the U.S. On 5 October 2015, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated he expected "signatures on the finalized text and deal early in the new year, and ratification over the next two years." A version of the treaty text "Subject to Legal Review (...) for Accuracy, Clarity and Consistency" was made public on 5 November 2015, the same day President Obama notified Congress he intended to sign it. On November 11, 2016, it was reported that, due to Donald Trump's election to President, the White House would not pursue passing the agreement

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A Trump Pacific Partnership
President Obama shakes hands with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

TO THE extent the divided American electorate can be said to agree on anything after Nov. 8, it would seem to be broad rejection of “trade deals” such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both major-party candidates, Republican winner Donald Trump and Democratic loser Hillary Clinton — as well as her erstwhile primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — opposed it. Not surprisingly, the Senate will not take up the TPP in the lame-duck session.

Therefore, there was a certain pathos to President Obama’s valedictory performance at last weekend’s Asia-Pacific economic summit. With Mr. Trump, the most vehement protectionist to win the presidency in recent memory, preparing to take over at the White House on Jan. 20, Mr. Obama urged the region’s leaders not to give up on the TPP or the American presence in Asia that it would embody and perpetuate. Meanwhile, China’s strongman, Xi Jinping, offered membership in its alternative to the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a less ambitious tariff-cutting plan whose main impact would be to substitute Beijing for Washington as the Asia-Pacific region’s economic and, potentially, strategic heavyweight.

Abandoning the TPP would be a self-inflicted injury to the United States and its democratic partners, from the west coast of South America to Australia to Japan. Yet even as the various leaders of those nations declared themselves open to China’s blandishments, they refused to close the door on some new arrangement that might include the United States. New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, observed that he would consider renaming the TPP the “Trump Pacific Partnership” if it would help bring the new American administration on board; while Mr. Key was obviously joking, his offer to reopen negotiations in search of a bargain that would meet with Washington’s approval seemed genuine enough. Surely no nation in this prosperous, strategically vital area of the world can relish its abandonment by the United States, after 70 years in which the area benefited from American investment, trade and military strength.

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Singapore Stumbles on China's Road
China Frictions May See Singapore Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions

Despite strong historical and cultural ties to China, the tiny state of Singapore has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs, in part for its stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. As other Southeast Asian leaders lined up to meet President Xi Jinping at a summit in Beijing this week for his Belt-and-Road Initiative, Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan because unlike other countries that announced their leaders would attend without requiring a formal invitation, Singapore sought an invite, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.
“The cooler political relationship between Singapore and China could have ripple effects which influence economic and trade relations,” said Lu Jianren, a researcher at the China-Asean Research Institute at China’s Guangxi University. “Singapore has been less proactive to work with China while many leaders in the region showed greater enthusiasm that they want Beijing to be more involved in Southeast Asian growth.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. “I wouldn’t say we have major problems; we’ve had some issues and some incidents,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said of China, in an interview aired by the BBC in March.

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