The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) involves twelve Pacific Rim economies of varying sizes and structures. Although often portrayed as a free trade agreement, the TPPA can, at best, be expected to deliver paltry overall growth gains from trade liberalization. The much higher figures touted by TPPA advocates are largely due to dubious ‘non-trade measures’, most of which have been rejected by the US International Trade Commission (ITC). Nevertheless, the ITC expects significant growth due to greatly increased foreign direct investment, which is exaggerated. The TPPA also brings costs and risks to developing countries threatening their development prospects as well as the public interest, as illustrated by claims for Malaysia, financial liberalization, intellectual property and investor-state dispute settlement provisions. Politically driven by the Obama administration, the TPPA has undermined progress on multilateral trade negotiations as well as ASEAN and ASEAN+ regional economic cooperation.
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(This article was originally posted in the Initiative for Policy Dialogue on October 13, 2016.)