Mega-FTAs and the trade-security nexus : the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

Date
2016-03
Authors
Aggarwal, Vinod K.
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Honolulu, HI : East-West Center
Abstract
Following on the development of sectoral, bilateral, and regional free trade agreements (FTAs), “mega-FTAs” are now proposed that could link economies across regions. The US and China are promoting rival accords: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would encompass 800 million people and almost 40 percent of global GDP, is a centerpiece of the Obama Asia Pacific strategy. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would account for 30 percent of global GDP, with a population of over three billion people, creating the largest FTA in the world. TPP advocates assert that it will strengthen the US’s strategic role in the region, in part by countering China’s membership in the RCEP. These claims, made in response to growing skepticism in the United States about the value of liberalized trade, over-emphasize the TPPs strategic value. At the same time, projecting the economic impact of the TPP is thorny, given the deal’s scope and the diversity of countries involved.
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