During an event yesterday on the complex dynamics between two major trade agreements in Asia—the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)—Japan’s ambassador to the United States, Kenichiro Sasae, said that Japan “welcome[s] Chinese participation in TPP” and also if the Republic of Korea is interested, “that would be also great.” Ambassador Sasae noted that such agreements are good “not only in terms of business and the economy” but also “a good part of making the relationships among the three … better … to pave the way for more exchange of people.”
“There shouldn’t be any exclusion,” the ambassador said.
The event, hosted by the Center for East Asia Policy Studies, was moderated by Senior Fellow Mireya Solís, who introduced the theme of the panel discussion, the two narratives that describe the interaction between TPP and RCEP. One about rivalry, the other about convergence. The “reality is more complex” she said, noting three factors: (1) competition is not of the zero sum kind; (2) these are not exclusive trading blocs; and (3) we don’t know if there is enough common ground to allow for convergence.
Solís said that these two agreements “will define the parameters of economic integration in the world’s most dynamic region: Asia.” These “are indeed mega-undertakings,” she said.
Event panelists included: Takashi Terada, a professor in the Department of Political Science at Doshisha University; AEI Resident Scholar Claude Barfield; Yunling Zhang from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; and Sanchita Basu Das from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.