ASG Senior Advisor Ira Shapiro Interviewed by Nikkei Asian Review on TPP

Confidence in US approval of TPP - Ira Shapiro, a former top trade negotiator for the U.S., praises the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its significance for U.S.-Japan relations, and says that a failure for the U.S. to ratify the TPP would show the world a nation "in retreat."

Link to video of the interview here


TPP a 'defining moment' for America-led world

By Ken Moriyasu

TOKYO -- Besides eliminating trade barriers and tariffs, the Trans-Pacific Partnership is meant to ensure Internet freedom, work to abolish child labor, oppose wildlife trafficking and promote environmental protection.

In other words, says former U.S. trade negotiator Ira Shapiro, it reflects key values that the U.S. stands for -- high-standard rules to govern the 21st Century economy -- and whether the U.S. Congress ratifies the agreement or not will be a "defining moment" for the America-led world.

Shapiro, who was general counsel to U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor and chief trade negotiator with Japan and Canada during the Bill Clinton administration, was in Tokyo on Friday to attend a TPP symposium hosted by The Nikkei. "If Congress rejects TPP, the world will conclude that we are a protectionist, isolationist nation, unmistakably in retreat," he told the Nikkei Asian Review in an interview.

The convergence of interests of the U.S. and Japan was "extraordinary" for a trade negotiator from a far more contentious period between the two countries. "Only a former trade negotiator can understand just how hard it was," he said, referring to the broad agreement reached by 12 Asia-Pacific countries on the TPP. "It includes what is essentially a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Japan, which only a few years ago would have seemed completely inconceivable."

He believes that it was the rise of China that ultimately convinced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pursue TPP. If the TPP becomes reality, "China will have a choice of either making the changes necessary to join TPP or intensify its leadership of competing arrangements, as we've seen with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank," he said. "For the U.S. and Japan, it is important to set a model."

China would have to allow Internet freedom, make significant changes in its intellectual property rules and adhere to certain discipline on their state-owned enterprises, Shapiro said.

For that to happen, the U.S. Congress would first have to ratify the agreement. Politicians from President Barack Obama's own party, including leading Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, have said they oppose TPP. Yet, Shapiro said he is "absolutely confident that Congress will approve the TPP in 2016."

"Access to these fast growing markets in Asia, where the middle class consumers of the present and the future are, benefits every sector of the U.S. economy," he said.

"People in Congress understand the geopolitical significance of it. If it is not approved, nothing we do or say will have credibility in the Asia Pacific and probably globally."

Link to full article here