Negotiations toward a deal to open up trade among eight countries along the Pacific Rim got going in Melbourne, Australia on Monday. Expectations are high as some observers predict that the resulting deal, dubbed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, could be the foundation of a free trade area that eventually spans the entire Pacific region.
In the near term, however, delegates involved in this week’s TPP negotiations are hoping to build on the existing ‘P-4’ free trade deal, which governs economic relations among four countries in the region: Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. This week, those countries are joined by Australia, Peru, the United States and Vietnam, all of which are hoping to sign on to an expanded trade pact. Other countries in the region, including China, Japan, South Korea, and some Southeast Asian nations, may also be looking to join the negotiation soon. Proponents say that a solid TPP deal could help the 21 country members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group achieve their goal of establishing a free trade zone across the entire region. Read more here.