ASIA-PACIFIC – The new economic paradise

At the Forum of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) last Sunday, the U.S. and eleven other countries, including Japan and Canada, have decided to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership. Even if China is excluded from the project, the Asia-Pacific region could become the largest free trade area in the world

sommetGathered this weekend in Hawaii, the 21 leaders of member economies of the Forum of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have discussed the future of the Asia-Pacific region (Photo AFP). More than half of them have endorsed the “broad outlines” of an agreement creating a “Partnership Across” (TPP).

The largest free trade area
They are twelve in all (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, USA, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam) to support the creation of this new privileged economic zone. Barack Obama had obtained on Friday in-extremis support from Tokyo and from Toronto and Mexico City on Sunday. This new area of free trade, representing 40% of the global economy, if born, would be the largest trade union in the world, with nearly 800 million consumers. “We now have the opportunity to progress towards our ultimate goal: a regional economy without hindrance,” said the first U.S. president born in the Pacific. “This will be the largest free trade area in the world,” enthused Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. Barack Obama provides that the first “legal text” is born next year. Other states in the region are invited to take part in this major project.  

Beijing isolates
Member of APEC, Beijing will not join the TPP. The President of the Second Global Economy argues, however, “efforts to promote the establishment of a free trade area (…) including the PPT.” Hu also agreed to lower tariffs on “green” products, such as solar panels (not more than 5% by 2015). U.S. President held talks Saturday with his Chinese counterpart face to face, reminding him yet again the need for competitiveness in the global economy to revalue the Chinese currency. “Even if the yuan rose significantly, it will not solve the problems the U.S. is facing,” replied Mr. Hu, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Washington insists
The United States has nevertheless insisted that “the Asia-Pacific region is absolutely crucial for economic growth in America.””We think this is a top priority,” added Barack Obama, who seeks in Asia’s new growth engine. His comments echo the statement by the Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, who declared to member economies of APEC that “all countries must play their part to help rebalance the global economy “. Beijing will certainly appreciate the message.

Hawaiian shirts in the closet
Tradition has it that the leaders of Apec pose for a photo college, wearing the traditional dress of the host country. It was thus possible to admire them in costume Vietnamese in 2006 or wearing a bomber jacket in Seattle in 1993. The U.S. president has departed from the rule this year, offering a Hawaiian shirt to all participants, without requiring them to take a picture at the end of the conference. “Looking at the photos of previous summits, I concluded that it was a tradition that one could give up,” said Obama in conclusion of the summit. “I have not heard many complaints about it,” he joked.

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