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What: AmCham luncheon on the Trans Pacific Partnership

When: Friday, September 5, 2014, 12:00pm – 1:45pm

Where: InterContinental Hanoi Westlake, 1A Nghi Tam, Tay Ho

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement that is currently being negotiated by twelve countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. Negotiations began in 2005 and member countries set the goal of wrapping up negotiations in 2012 but contentious issues such as agriculture, intellectual property, and services and investments caused negotiations to continue. The countries then set a goal of finishing the agreement by the end of 2013, but that didn’t happen. The current goal is to wrap up negotiations by the end of this year and the next round of talks is taking place in Hanoi right now. If completed, the TPP will cover some 40 percent of global economic output. On Friday at lunchtime, AmCham is pleased to welcome two TPP experts for a special member briefing and discussion on the on-going TPP negotiations and the status of Vietnam’s inclusion in the agreement.

TPP Background:

The TPP is being negotiated as a “21st century” free trade agreement. It is designed not only to eliminate all tariffs in principle, but also to address the stubborn non-tariff barriers and “behind-the-border” business environment issues that impede the smooth flow of trade and investment across the Asia-Pacific region.

AmCham is hopeful that the TPP can address today’s needs on transparency, competition policy, intellectual property issues, and government procurement regulations, among others. The TPP also aims to address newly emerging trade issues such as supply chain connectivity, regulatory coherence, innovation, and SME development. Such an agreement would underpin the goal of inclusive growth where all participating countries and citizens of all levels benefit.

The agreement is made up of separate chapters that include: competition, cooperation and capacity building, cross-border services, customs, e-commerce, environment, financial services, government procurement, intellectual property, investment, labor, legal issues, market access for goods, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, technical barriers to trade, telecommunications, temporary entry, textiles and apparel, and trade remedies.

Of course not everybody is excited about the agreement. Global health professionals, internet freedom activists, environmentalists, organized labor, advocacy groups, and elected officials have criticized and protested the negotiations, in large part because of the proceedings’ secrecy, the agreement’s expansive scope, and controversial clauses in some of the agreement text that has been leaked publicly.

The TPP is often called the economic backbone of President Obama’s “pivot” to Asia and is a centerpiece of the president’s trade agenda. But negotiations have stalled over failure for the US and Japan to agree on provisions that would make it easier for US businesses to sell their products in Japan. Japan has told the United States it will keep tariffs on rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy products and sugar under the TPP. An agreement with Japan to open its markets further to US cars and agricultural products is seen as crucial to winning domestic political support in the US, as well as a tool for moving forward on other issues among the 12-nation group. Just last week, 140 members of the US House of Representatives indicated that congressional support for the TPP would be jeopardized if US negotiators accept anything less than elimination of all trade barriers to US agricultural goods. Other political difficulties, particularly those related to the passage of a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by Congress, present another cause of delay for the TPP negotiations. Receiving TPA from Congress has been difficult for the President because of disagreement within his own Party and his lack of effort to push Congress.

There is still a lot left for negotiators to tackle on substance. The main outstanding areas of the agreement are related to market access, pharmaceuticals/copyright, state-owned enterprises, environmental and labor standards, cross border data flows, investor protections, and some currency issues. In addition, the US and Vietnam are still negotiating on the important areas of apparel and footwear.

Guest Speakers Background:

Catherine Mellor serves as a Director for Asia at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington. She closely follows the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations on behalf of the business community. She previously served as Associate Director for Southeast Asia at the Chamber from 2006-2011. Prior to her work at the US Chamber, Catherine spent more than 4 years as a Research Officer at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She also served as a Staff Assistant for California Congressman Darrell Issa.

Deborah Elms serves as Executive Director of the Asian Trade Centre in Singapore. She is also a senior fellow in the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Trade Academy. Previously, she was head of the Temasek Foundation Centre for Trade & Negotiations and senior fellow of international political economy at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Her current research involves the TPP negotiations and global value chains. She has provided consulting on a range of trade issues to governments including the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Taiwan, and Singapore. Dr. Elms received a PhD in political science from the University of Washington, a MA in international relations from the University of Southern California, and bachelor’s degrees from Boston University.

COST: 650,000 VND (members); 850,000 VND (non-members). Please register your attendance using the online form below.