The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, signed by 12 countries including the United States in February 2016, is a leading effort to establish broad and high-standard rules for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, which will serve as a model for future FTAs and EPAs. Moreover, the TPP represents a crucial step toward the realisation of a free and open international economic order that is founded upon the common values and principles of freedom, democracy, rule of law, and market economy.
The conclusion of the TPP Agreement would provide the Japanese economy with the legal infrastructure to support sophisticated value chains of corporations that extend throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Furthermore, by harnessing the power of a region that is the world’s growth center, the agreement would provide an opportunity to further an important pillar in Japan’s growth strategy.
It is regrettable that the United States withdrew from the TPP in January 2017, as its participation was essential for the agreement to come into effect. However, in view of the economic and strategic significance of the agreement with respect to forging stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, we should not give up. Rather, the 11 remaining member countries should move forward to conclude the TPP (so-called TPP 11) in anticipation of the United States’ eventual return to the agreement in the future.
The Japanese business community, recognises the Japanese government’s leadership in working to bring about the swift conclusion of the TPP 11. In order to preserve the essence of the comprehensive, high-standard, 21st century agreement, they should minimize changes to the original agreement and aim to reach general consensus at the APEC summit scheduled to be held in November.
At the same time, with respect to the United States, they should continue to engage in discussions within the framework of the Japan-U.S. Economic Dialogue regarding how to best advance the high-standard rules incorporated in the TPP throughout the Asia-Pacific region.