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TPP to rise from the ashes

Recent moves suggest regional trade pact may revive, but can it thrive?

| Japan
Delegates participate in the opening session of the Trans-Pacific Partnership senior leaders meeting in Sydney in late August.   © Reuters

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement is clinging on. Despite the U.S. withdrawal from the pact earlier this year, the other 11 members are still aiming for ratification -- for good reason: Even without the world's largest economy, the agreement still offers tangible benefits to remaining signatories. More important, it helps sustain momentum toward trade liberalization, sets new standards for emerging trade issues, such as intellectual property rights, and could serve as a stepping stone for a much bigger free trade area if membership is expanded in the future. For a region built on trade, the TPP offers hope.

Obstacles remain. The group cobbles together vastly different economies, from commodity exporters like Brunei, Peru, Canada, Chile, New Zealand and Australia, the service hub of Singapore, to manufacturers like Mexico, Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia. Their levels of development also differ enormously: stretching from some of the region's lowest to highest per capita incomes. This incongruity, however, is also the TPP's strength, even without the U.S.: Natural complementarities would unleash benefits for all, none of which individual economies would be able to grasp on their own.

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