Trans-Pacific Partnership on President Obama’s Asian Trip Agenda

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Next week, President Obama will leave Washington for a three-nation trip to Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia.  Media reports ahead of the trip note that Thailand is likely to announce its interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations which have been gaining momentum.  While in Cambodia, the President will participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings and attend the broader East Asia Summit.  Having Thailand join the TPP talks would be a boost for the agreement and expand to five the number of ASEAN countries already participating in the discussions (Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei are already at the table).

ITI participated in a conference call this afternoon where Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes previewed the President’s trip.  He focused on the TPP.

We anticipate [the President] will meet with the other leaders who are part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that we’ve been promoting as a cornerstone of our trade agenda going forward.  We see extraordinary potential in deepening the economic ties within the Asia Pacific.  As we look to the future of our trade agenda, completing the successful Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will ultimately lead to a great deal of economic benefit to the United States. 

. . .

We’ve seen a lot of our export growth in this region.  That trajectory continues upward.  The TPP agreement is something we’re continuing to pursue through negotiations.  It’s grown in that you’ve had Canada and Mexico join negotiations, and expressions of interest in joining from other Asian countries.

We believe the United States and global economy stand to gain substantially from a high-quality, comprehensive TPP.  There is enormous potential in a free trade agreement that is economically significant, cross-cutting, and addresses next-generation trade issues.  As Thailand and other nations consider joining the talks, we open major avenues to strengthen the tech sector in the United States and around the world, and we create significant opportunities across other sectors.   

President Obama soon travels to the Asia Pacific for a three-nation trip.The facts bear this out.  If concluded and implemented, the TPP could become the world’s largest free-trade zone – one that is well formed and flexible so that it can accommodate a growing membership.  The countries currently involved represent 658 million people and a gross domestic product of $20.5 trillion.

To reap the benefits of the TPP for the United States, regional economies, and global economy, it is critical to continue to pursue the highest standard agreement possible and to maintain momentum and ensure timely conclusion, even as new countries seek to join the negotiations.

The next round of TPP negotiations -- the 15th in the series of discussions -- is slated for early December in New Zealand.  As co-chair of the ICT Working Group of the TPP Business Coalition, ITI has assumed a leadership role in driving tech-friendly outcomes in the negotiations that would include greater regulatory transparency, stronger intellectual property rights enforcement, binding provisions to support the cross-border flow of data, and light-touch approaches to encryption regulation.

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