The second is that there are large hurdles ahead if both China and the U.S. want China in the TPP. Some China-based hurdles (state-owned enterprises come immediately to mind) may call for an approach by phases, or steps, over a decade and more. The office of the U.S. Trade Representative regards the TPP as a “single undertaking,” but in practical terms a stepped or phased approach is likely to apply, for example to some of Japan’s agricultural sectors, and no doubt some other nations have their own candidates. More positively, the likely accomplishments of the U.S.-China Bilateral Investment Treaty suggest that some TPP expectations could be met more quickly. Overall, the conclusion hard to escape is that because China and the United States are the world’s two largest economies, and have so much at stake in the Pacific region, a Trans-Pacific Partnership that does not include both would represent a major lost opportunity.
Bernard K. Gordon is the author of America’s Trade Follies (Routledge 2001) and earlier books dealing with East Asia. His articles on trade and the TPP have appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, and the National Interest. He is Professor of Political Science Emeritus at the University of New Hampshire. He can be reached at [email protected].
Image: Flickr/OlliL. CC BY-SA 2.0.