Amid the debate of a U.S.-centric TPP template or a China-led RCEP model, it is important to consider if such trade agreements are building blocks or stumbling blocks to global free trade. With the passage of the TPP still uncertain in the U.S. Congress, and the RCEP unlikely to be acceptable to the U.S., the more likely global trade scenario will be fragmentation
The U.S.-driven Trans Pacific Partnership agreement between 12 countries, which is aiming to become the new standard of world trade, impacts domestic systems globally. For India, it will skew investment and intellectual property rights, and especially the debate over the Investor State Dispute System which allows companies to challenge sovereign rights and public policy.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership might soon be concluded if the U.S. Congress fast-tracks it, as recently announced, while the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement remains on slow-track. But the TPP, although ambitious, follows an outdated template, and it is the dynamic RCEP that can be a model for a new global rules-based framework
In the wake of an ambitious and aggressive China, American President Barack Obama’s recent visits to various Asian countries were meant to assure allies old and new. At the same time, he trod a fine line, ensuring that he does not displease Beijing. And that may embolden China