Ahead of talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe scheduled for this week, President Trump told a group of governors and lawmakers in a meeting on Thursday, April 12th that the United States was looking to rejoin the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”).  President Trump withdrew from the TPP in January, 2017, just days after his inauguration, calling the agreement a “disaster.”

On Friday April 13th, however, President Trump repeated his previous stipulation that the United States would “only join {the TPP} if the deal were substantially better than the deal offered to {President} Obama.”  He explained that, “{the United States} already {has} BILATERAL deals with six of the eleven nations” in  the TPP, and we “are working to make a deal with the biggest of those nations, Japan, who has hit us hard on trade for years!”
Continue Reading Trump Reconsiders TPP Stance, May Have Renewed Interest in Multilateral Agreement

On February 21, the final version of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP”) was released ahead of its official signing, which is scheduled for March 8, 2018.  The CPTPP reduces tariffs between 11 nations: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The economies of these nations together account for more than 13% of the total global GDP, or 10 trillion U.S. dollars.

New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker, in a February 21, 2018 news conference, stressed the importance of the deal “because of the growing threats to the effective operation of the World Trade Organization rules.”  Steven Ciobo, Australia’s Minister for Trade, also praised the deal telling Reuters that, “the TPP-11 will help create new Australian jobs across all sectors – agriculture, manufacturing, mining, services – as it creates new opportunities in a free trade area that spans the Americas and Asia.”

The United States was a member state of the predecessor to the CPTPP – the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) – which was negotiated under former
Continue Reading Will the U.S. Re-Join the (CP)TPP?

Last Friday, the CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, as part of its World Trade Monitor, reported that global trade flows – the volume of export and imports of goods – was 4.5% higher in 2017 than in 2016.  This is an important finding because it marks the biggest rate of year-in-year expansion since the world began recovering from the global financial crisis, exceeding expectations for the year.  According to the CPB World Trade Monitor, global trade flows grew 24% between January 2010 and December 2017.

Experts, however, are cautiously optimistic about the news and what it could mean for 2018.  Last year, significant uncertainties about critical aspects of the global economy made it difficult to predict the track of trade growth.  The WTO cited unpredictability with respect to government action on monetary, fiscal, and trade policy, and whether trade would be restricted in favor of attempts to address domestic wage stagnation and unemployment. 
Continue Reading Global Trade Flows Are Expanding, But Is There a Reason for Optimism?

Earlier this week, the remaining 11 parties to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations announced the conclusion of negotiations and that an agreement will be signed on March 8, 2018.  The parties to the agreement (rebranded as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership) are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.  The United States withdrew from the TPP almost exactly one year ago, as one of President Trump’s first actions in office.  The TPP’s future was in question after the U.S. withdrawal; Japan struggled to keep the agreement alive through a new framework reached in May 2017.  Canada continued to put up roadblocks on cultural product exemptions and market access for autos that were only resolved through bilateral side letters within the last couple of weeks.
Continue Reading Trans-Pacific Partnership: A Final Deal Reached Without the United States

The European Union and Japan have been working this week to wrap up a bilateral trade agreement with the goal of having most of a deal ahead of next week’s G20 summit in Hamburg.  The deal, which has been over 10 years in the making, would be one of the largest trade agreements to date, covering one quarter of the world’s economy between the two partners.  Key aspects of the agreement will provide greater market access to each party’s auto and machinery sectors, remove structural barriers to trade, create new rules for investment disputes, and reaffirm the parties’ commitment to the Paris climate accord (from which the United States has announced it will withdraw).

One sticking point has been Japan’s high tariffs – up to 40 percent – on imported cheese.  The EU claims about half of the global cheese market, while Japanese dairy farms struggle to survive.  Japan had already agreed to limited tariff reductions on selected cheese products in the course of the TPP negotiations, and has signaled it has no interest in going beyond those concessions.  Still, negotiators for each side are working hard to overcome these hurdles and have a final agreement in place by the end of 2017.
Continue Reading Japan: The Belle of the Bilateral Ball?