Politicians negotiating international trade deals love their abbreviations. The world of global trade is a vast bowl of alphabet soup _ WTO, Nafta, Apec _ and now we have TTIP and TPP: the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as they are known officially.
The transatlantic and transpacific trade deals have huge potential implications for the global economy. Multilateral free trade _ the sort of thing the World Trade Organisation negotiates _ has faded from the agenda amid disagreements and recrimination, largely over agricultural policy. Hopes for a less restrictive global trading environment now rest with these new trade deals.
For Asia, the transpacific deal is pretty important. Singapore, Brunei, Australia and Japan are all involved in the negotiations, and South Korea has been invited to participate. The deal matters almost as much for those not participating as for those that are; non-participants will be at a competitive disadvantage compared to those that do participate, should a deal be signed. Negotiations have already undergone 19 rounds, most recently in Brunei in August. Three of the eight most important trading nations in the world are part of the negotiations.
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