ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
The US-ASEAN Business Council Supports the Passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement
“The TPP agreement marks an extraordinary opportunity to open markets and level the playing field for American exporters and investors competing in some of Asia’s fastest growing markets, including four ASEAN markets. Building on the success of the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement of 2004, American exports to Singapore have grown by nearly 90 percent. We believe that TPP can offer similar export opportunities in Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam in ASEAN.” Alexander C. Feldman, President & CEO, US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC).
The US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) believes that the TPP Agreement will benefit Americans and advance U.S. national interests. “The TPP will help reduce artificial barriers on US companies, improving both the cost of doing business and the ability to offer goods and services on a wider basis,” noted US-ABC Chairman and UL President & CEO Keith Williams. “For those reasons we urge the administration and Congress to work together to resolve areas of concern so that it can be ratified with strong support and enter into force as quickly as possible.”
Successful ratification of the TPP will add credibility and substance to America’s strategic, long-term rebalancing towards Asia. The terms of the agreement provide a sound platform for American businesses and investors to vigorously compete in many of Asia’s fastest growing and commercially significant markets including 4 (Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam) of the 10 nations which make up the ASEAN region. TPP also looks to the future and provides a strong foundation for American competitiveness and free trade in key areas such as Information Services, Financial & Professional Services, Healthcare and the Internet economy that are becoming vital to our 21st Century prosperity.
ASEAN is Asia’s premier regional economic hub, home to over 600 million residents, with a combined GDP of nearly $2.5 trillion. ASEAN is already America’s fourth largest trading partner, with two-way trade reaching $215 billion in 2014. U.S. exports to ASEAN countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, reached US $79 billion in goods, and $23 billion in services, supporting over 370,000 American jobs. Twenty states, including California ($12 billion), Texas ($11 billion) and Washington ($8 billion) have annual exports in excess of $1 billion to Southeast Asia. While U.S. exports to ASEAN have increased in recent years, U.S. market share of ASEAN’s imports has eroded.
TPP puts the United States back on a strong footing and can reverse this adverse trend. The TPP creates a more balanced playing field for U.S. businesses competing in Asia against businesses from China, India, and Europe by establishing pro innovation standards in a wide variety of areas. In electronic commerce, for example, the TPP contains important commitments to the free flow of data and consumer protections. It will eliminate 100 percent of the tariffs on thousands of qualifying exports of industrial goods and textiles. And by streamlining customs procedures to simplify the release of goods across borders, it will help small and medium-sized businesses obtain greater opportunities out of trade agreements.
The US-ABC recognizes that there are a variety of special concerns to be dealt with regarding TPP. We are confident that government and industry working together can find practical solutions leading to even stronger congressional support for ratifying the TPP. This historic agreement is already generating benefits that can help expand mutually beneficial trade and investment relations between the United States and Asia-Pacific nations. For example, the conclusion of the TPP negotiations and public release of the agreement text has already catalyzed new trade liberalization discussions in commercially significant non-TPP ASEAN nations including Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, with each of these countries publicly indicating their intention to join TPP. Bringing these countries into alignment with the agreement’s high standards will open new business possibilities for American exporters and farmers. The successful conclusion of the TPP negotiations also gives the United States an opportunity to str
engthen its economic linkages with Asia, before 16 Asia Pacific nations – the 10 countries in ASEAN, plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia – conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement, a deal which excludes the U.S. Once completed, the combined RCEP nations will represent a $10 trillion dollar trade zone accounting for nearly 30% of world trade and home to 50% of the world's population.
“Free trade is optimized in an atmosphere of fair trade,” said Mr. Williams. The US-ABC believes that the TPP Agreement provides next generation rules, regulatory cooperation frameworks and greater transparency in governing business activities in all 12 nations, which together make up 40 percent of the world’s GDP. Given the ongoing uncertainties in the multilateral trading system, the modest outlook for global economic growth and the increasing importance of regional and bi-lateral trade agreements, the TPP can and will serve the best interests of the American people. The US-ASEAN Business Council looks forward to working with Congress, the administration and stakeholders to address legitimate concerns about the agreement, support its ratification and ultimately the full implementation of this cutting-edge, 21st century international trade agreement. At the end of the day, the question is, are we better off in it or out of it? We believe the clear answer is in it.
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