On Monday the Office of the U.S.
Trade Representative (USTR) notified Congress that
it would initiate negotiations with New Zealand, Chile, Brunei,
Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, and Australia to form a Trans-Pacific
This is the first time that the Obama administration has formally
initiated trade negotiations.
Back in 2006, New Zealand, Chile,
Singapore, and Brunei
implemented the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement
(commonly referred to as the P4), which was originally designed to welcome new
nations into the pact, gradually expanding a wider low tariff zone. After the Bush
administration expressed interest in joining the pact in February of 2008, Peru, Vietnam,
moved toward jumping on the P4 bandwagon.
This is something of a new model
for negotiating trade agreements, in terms of the U.S. experience. After the total collapse of the Free Trade
Area of the Americas
proposal, the USTR shifted to a bilateral trade agreement strategy where it
could exert maximum pressure in the one-on-one negotiations. Instead of biting off more than it can chew,
this time the USTR seems intent on taking small bites to create the same failed
mega-FTAs. Inside US Trade explains:
A statement by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it hopes
will join P4 and this would possibly lead, through a process known as “docking
and merging,” to a version of the much-discussed Free Trade Area of the Asia
Negotiations begin in March of next year.