News that the U.S. would participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, joining Chile, New Zealand, Singapore and Brunei, was announced in Tokyo and Singapore, drawing applause at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
There have been concerns that the U.S., the world’s biggest economy, and other nations might turn inward as they grapple with the worst global financial crisis in decades. Obama’s move reinforced calls for expanding free trade rather than resorting to protectionist measures to cope with the recession. He pushed for progress on talks to liberalize world trade.
APEC, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, was created to promote greater trade and integration among Pacific Rim nations from Chile to China. Its scope since has expanded to encompass a wide range of issues, including climate change, energy and food security, and politics.
Barack Obama will signal yet another break with his predecessor’s foreign policy this week when he takes his first presidential trip to Asia. While the Bush administration focused almost exclusively on the big players like China and India, Obama is very deliberately focusing on smaller countries as well. In addition to stops in China, Japan, and South Korea, Obama will make the first visit by a U.S. president to meet leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk urged APEC members to work together to stimulate recovery in a “balanced” way, a comment that hints at concerns over China’s export-reliant growth.,Singapore welcomed the U.S. announcement and said the TPP, which went into force in 2006, now has the potential to expand to an eight-member group, with Australia, Peru and Vietnam also expressing interest.
The longer-term goal is to expand the TPP to an agreement encompassing all 21 APEC members, dubbed the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, but Tay called it “early days” for progress on the broader pact.Despite the commitment to free trade, the U.S. Congress has balked at passing agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama negotiated under the previous presidency.
Obama’s trip to Asia follows visits Hillary Clinton has already made to leading ASEAN member states, including Indonesia and Thailand, and it comes immediately after Kurt Campbell, an assistant secretary of state, last week became the highest-ranking U.S. official to hold talks in Burma in more than a decade.
By comparison, Condoleezza Rice skipped two out of four ASEAN meetings. Douglas Paal at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says that when Bush visited Indonesia after Sept. 11, he was “in and out as fast as he could” and focused almost exclusively in many countries on terrorism. As Bush came to dwell more and more on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Paal says, it started to send a message that the U.S. cared about these issues to the exclusion of all others.
Chinese vote 14 Thai tourism favourites
The 2017 People’s Choice Awards Thailand were based on 3.7 million votes cast during a two-week period.
Thai baht hits new record high in two years
The Thai baht is one of the best-performing currencies in the region this year, rising about 5% against the dollar.
We’ll Live to 100, but Can We Afford It?
As the quality of healthcare has increased during the past century, so too have global life expectancies – but new generations will pay a high price for living longer.
The world’s six largest pension systems will have a joint shortfall of $224 trillion by 2050, imperiling the incomes of future generations and setting the industrialized world up for the biggest pension crisis in history. (more…)
Covid-19: the Latest on Southeast Asia
As 2021 dawns, the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop in Southeast Asia. Many countries are preparing to receive their first...
Thailand’s slow economic recovery
The speed of economic recovery in Thailand has been slower than neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam and China, especially...
Thailand strengthens COVID-19 control measures
Apart from the capital city, many provinces have also enforced tougher measures to contain COVID-19, with inter-provincial travels now being...
Thai Exports to grow 4% in 2021
Contributing factors include the recovering world economy and the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) estimate that the world economy will expand...
Thai Government imposes ban on gatherings over New Year 2021 holidays
TAT would like to remind all that New Year 2021 activities have been cancelled or gone virtual nationwide to avoid...
Thai cabinet allows illegal migrant workers to sign up for 2-year work permit
Migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, who are in Thailand illegally, will be able to obtain a 2-year work...