Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Mike Froman today announced that President Barack Obama has convened a meeting of the nine Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries.
Mr. Froman said it was a follow-up meeting to the one that President Obama convened last year in Yokohama at the APEC leaders meeting. He said it was a terrific meeting in a number of respects.
“First, the leaders agreed on the broad outlines of an agreement on TPP – and I think you have seen the various documents that USTR has put out, leaders statement and various summaries of what’s been agreed to so far.” -Mr. Froman
The leaders set an aggressive timetable of trying to complete the TPP over the course of 2012, and they discussed both the standards that they wanted to maintain for TPP and the need to make sure that it achieves its objectives of being a high-standard agreement, an ambitious agreement.
“And they also discussed how to address the expressions of interest by additional countries in TPP, including Japan, among others.” -Mr. Froman
He noted that there was broad agreement in the room that the leaders see the TPP as an open platform that they hope to expand and have other countries join, provided that they can maintain that high-standard agreement and the high level of ambition.
“And they look forward to initiating consultations with Japan and other countries of interest to determine whether or not those countries could engage in what’s expected of a TPP country.” -Mr. Froman
He stated a number of the leaders reflected on the fact that what made the meeting important and the process special is that there is clearly a lot of political will behind getting this done, and the importance of political will and political commitment to furthering these trade negotiations.
“I think you all have the fact sheet on TPP. But this is an important set of countries. It’s almost 200 million consumers. We currently trade over $200 billion with these countries; that trade is growing significantly. Our exports to these countries are growing by almost 23 percent, from 2009 to 2010, and cross machinery, aircraft, medical instruments, as well as agriculture, and supporting over 500,000 jobs. So it’s an important set of countries.” – Mr. Froman