International Trade

  • Republicans, business leaders and some Democrats are not pro-TPP.

    TPP? Meet the Republicans

    In a surprising development, US congressional Republicans and a few of their business allies now pose the biggest threat to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). With the announcement of the agreement on 5 October, there was no support from a single Republican leader in Congress, nor any broad business federation in the United States. Republican support for the TPP is indispensable since most congressional Democrats oppose it and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has just come out against it.

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  • Is China a TPP loser or is it too soon to tell?

    TPP Winners and Losers

    After five years of struggle, the United States, Japan and 10 other economies in Asia and Latin America signed a massive trade pact: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The winners are obvious: US President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well as, arguably, the US and Japanese economies. Obama can leave office with a strong demonstration of the US pivot to Asia and Abe can finally argue that the third arrow of his Abenomics program is not empty.

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  • Labor proposals for worker safeguards are a positive step regarding ChAFTA.

    Moving ChAFTA Forward with Worker Safeguards

    Labor’s proposals designed to “safeguard” Australian workers under the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) are a step in the right direction and are likely to break the impasse that has prevented the trade agreement passing through the Senate.

    In essence, Labor has recommended amending the Migration Act 1958 to address three areas of concern arising from the ChAFTA.

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  • The South China Sea is heating up between the U.S. and China.

    The Importance of Keeping a Cool Head Over the South China Sea

    A bipartisan letter from the US House of Representatives has urged the US government to verbally and physically challenge, China’s purported claims to 12 nautical mile territorial seas around its artificial formations in the South China Sea. The letter also implies that China’s actions are threatening ‘freedom of navigation’.

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  • The TPP could go several different ways, but not all will allow an Asian Century

    Achieving the 'Asian Century'

    The recent Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement presents Asia with good, bad and ugly scenarios.

    Had the TPP failed, that would have been a severe blow to the credibility of the United States in Asia. Yet, it excludes Asia’s largest economies – China, Indonesia and India.

    Not a game changer but vital to US credibility

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  • Attention now turns to ratification of the TPP.

    The TPP Inches Closer to the Finish Line

    It took nearly eight years, but a dozen countries on both sides of the Pacific Rim, which account for 40% of the world's GDP reached a trade agreement.  Attention will now shift to the ratification process. 

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  • Trade appears to increase consumer protection as partners aim higher.

    Consumer Protection as a Byproduct of Trade

    Significant legislative and practical challenges in enhancing consumer product safety law remain in many parts of Southeast Asia. But liberalising trade within ASEAN and with its outside trading partners has led to major progress in consumer protection standards.

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  • The Schengen Agreement undergoes its sternest test.

    The Schengen Agreement at Twenty Years

    The Schengen area has never tested to the same level as it is now. The unprecedented volume of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe has left its leaders struggling to cope. Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, issued a sober warning that the crisis puts Schengen into question, while Italy says it is ready to impose border controls and Hungary has sealed off its main train station.

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  • The new Suez Canal should reduce wait times and increase passages.

    The Symbolic versus Economic Value of the New Suez Canal

    Egypt has opened a second lane to the Suez Canal amid much fanfare. The US$8 billion dollar expansion adds 35km of new channels to the existing canal and another 35km where existing bodies of water were dredged to make way for larger ships. This will supposedly increase capacity from 50 transits a day to 97 and cut waiting times from 18 to 11 hours, which the Suez Canal Authority claims will more than double annual revenue to US$13.2 billion by 2023.

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  • Are FTAs building blocks or stumbling blocks?

    The Same Old Trade Arguments Persist with the TPP

    Ever since Jagdish Bhagwati coined the phrase ‘spaghetti bowl’ to describe the maze of overlapping preferential trade arrangements (PTAs), trade economists have been split over whether such deals are ‘building blocks’ or ‘stumbling blocks’ for the multilateral trading system.

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