The recent Singapore round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations has revealed major differences between the partners, especially the US and Japan. The initial deadline of a deal by the end of 2013 has proved illusory. Now there are doubts whether an agreement will ever be reached given the levels of domestic opposition within the US and Japan.
Among the US concerns are the need for disciplines against currency manipulation and enforceable labour and environmental standards. Over 230 Congressmen and 60 Senators have written to Obama demanding currency manipulation disciplines in the TPP but this is opposed by most partners. There is also broad opposition to US demands that if countries fail to enforce certain environmental agreements that they have signed, they will face TPP enforcement and trade sanctions. Other US aims that face broad opposition are a ban on trade in illegally harvested timber and endangered species, and enforceable action against fisheries subsidies.
By Julia Marie Ewert
In the next few weeks Indonesia will elect a new People’s Consultative Assembly and a new president. The legislative elections are scheduled for 9 April and presidential elections will take place on 9 July. With incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono being barred from a third term by the constitution, the Indonesian political scene will be fundamentally reshaped.
Thailand’s February 2 elections have not brought about conclusive results yet. It was announced today that re-runs of the elections will be held on 27 April in constituencies where voting was obstructed.
Opening a panel discussion on political changes in SE Asia, Fraser Cameron, Director of the EU-Asia Centre, said that the region would remain vulnerable to global developments, especially the financial and economic situation in China, the US and the EU, as well as energy prices. Thailand remained mired in political uncertainty with sporadic violence. Indonesia was facing important elections in July. There was on-going political uncertainty in Myanmar and Malaysia.
EU-ASIA Centre is a new think tank dedicated to promoting closer relations between the EU and Asia.