Trans-Pacific Partnership an Economic Opportunity: Article in the AFR

This opinion article by BCA Global Engagement Task Force Chairman and Corrs Chambers Westgarth CEO John W.H. Denton, American Chamber of Commerce CEO Niels Marquardt and US Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice-President Tami Overby was published in the Australian Financial Review on 23 October under the title ‘Pacific Deal Will Cut Barriers to Region’s Trade.’

Being competitive in the global economy – the key to creating jobs, providing the public services people expect, and improving living standards – means grasping every economic opportunity presented to us.

For US and Australian interests which we represent, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a trade liberalisation agreement involving Australia and 11 countries across the Asia Pacific – is just such an opportunity.

The TPP agreement aims to level the playing field for business, workers and farmers across the region. A successful TPP will mean more jobs, higher wages, stronger growth, a higher standard of living and new economic opportunities for Australia and the region.

The TPP promises to provide the long-imagined “Free Trade Area of the Pacific”. The benefits of the agreement are clear and few countries can afford to be left out of the final deal.

Already, key economies like Japan, Canada and Mexico have joined the TPP. Other regional countries like South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines have signalled their intention to join. China, the largest regional economy not included is welcome to join provided it accepts the TPP’s high aspirations.

But as TPP ministers and negotiators arrive in Sydney this week for what could be the last formal negotiation before completion, it is important to remind ourselves what this is all about.

The TPP will build on existing free trade agreements with key trading partners like the US, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand. The TPP is more comprehensive and will liberalise investment across virtually all sectors.

It will also aim to reduce all tariffs to zero, allowing more time for developing TPP economies like Vietnam.

It will also tackle for the first time critical issues like the Cloud – the trans-border flow of data – and enhanced intellectual property protection that will significantly boost innovation and jobs in TPP economies.

It will expand and build on what has already been negotiated in prior trade agreements. Further, the TPP will extend these liberalising provisions to countries with which Australia and the US have no trade agreements.

The TPP is often seen as representing ground-breaking opportunities for international business expansion. What is not appreciated is the way it stands to improve the daily lives and opportunities of ordinary Australians and Americans.

For these reasons, we think there should be more positive “buzz” around the TPP, particularly as ministers work to finalise agreement soon.

It will bring major win-win outcomes for both Australia and America. Now is the time to start anticipating and planning for the benefits that will flow from its successful conclusion.