“Our broad goal is to continue making progress toward a vibrant, seamless regional economy because with global supply chains clustered around the Pacific Rim, trade barriers around the region now affect . . . all economies worldwide,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said recently in Singapore, in a speech on Asia-Pacific trade. “We are committed to increasing transparency, good governance and the rule of law, all of which are fundamental to the smooth functioning of open markets . . . And we are [also] seeking ways to enhance development so that the benefits of trade can be shared more broadly.”
A significant step toward meeting these goals will be the conclusion of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade agreement that seeks to open trade and enhance economic cooperation. The Trans-Pacific Partnership currently includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. Japan, Canada and Mexico have also expressed interest in joining the trade talks.
Trade Representative Kirk said that the partners are working to promote efficiency through more coordinated regulation, to break down unnecessary barriers, and to enhance the “growth and vibrancy of the digital economy” to ensure the free flow of information among partner countries. The agreement also seeks 21st century solutions to trade issues old and new, including ensuring workers’ rights and environmental protections.
In addition to seeking a high-standard agreement for both developed and developing countries, Kirk said the trade partners are also addressing the concerns of workers and small businesses “by designing new ways to ensure that the benefits of trade agreements can be shared more broadly in each of our countries.”
“The final, long-term goal of the Trans-Pacific Partnership is to build a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific, an achievement that would bring tremendous benefits to the countries in the region and the global economy,” Trade Representative Kirk said in conclusion. “Just as we see [expanding trade] leading to a stronger Asia-Pacific economy, we also see the opportunity for this region to demonstrate global leadership by extending these policy principles and liberalization efforts worldwide.”