Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Council on Foreign Relations
U.S. President Barack Obama landed in Manila on Tuesday ahead of this week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, touring a naval vessel (Bloomberg) and pledging two more ships (IBT) that could aid the Philippines in defending its claims in the South China Sea. Leaders of the twenty-one-member forum have also voiced outrage over the attacks in Paris as security and geopolitical concerns overshadow talks (AP) on trade and the economy. Although China asked Philippine officials not to include territorial disputes in the APEC agenda, U.S. officials plan to highlight the issue in Manila as well as at the ASEAN (NYT) summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia later this week.
“The thing to watch is whether Xi will reposition RCEP as a complement, rather than a competitor, to the TPP, so that Apec’s ultimate goal of an Asia-Pacific free trade area can be realised. It is a sign of the times that Apec’s long-standing objective of creating the Asia-Pacific’s largest free trade area has been co-opted by China – once a free-trade laggard - as its own vision when Beijing hosted the Apec summit last year,'” writes Yang Razali Kassim for South China Morning Post.
“This year it faces an even bigger challenge: 12 APEC members have signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement that would achieve many of the group’s goals, but outside its framework. That raises the question, if the TPP is realised, of what APEC itself is for,” writes the Economist.
“Much of the media's attention has focused on lower tariff barriers in politically sensitive sectors such as auto manufacturing and agriculture. But tariffs on goods have fallen sharply over the past two decades through work done by the World Trade Organization. It is the provisions dealing with nontariff barriers that make the TPP significant and ground-breaking,” writes Justin Patrie for Nikkei Asian Review.