All Aboard The Post-TPP World

A half-hearted near handshake between US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin before and after they spoke «for about four minutes», standing up, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima, Peru, captured to perfection the melancholic dwindling of the Obama era. A whirlwind flashback of the fractious relationship between Obama and «existential threats» Russia and China would include everything from the Washington-sponsored Maidan in Kiev to Obama’s «Assad must go» in Syria, with special mentions to the oil price war, sanctions, the raid on the ruble, extreme demonization of Putin and all things Russian, provocations in the South China Sea – all down to a finishing flourish; the death of the much vaunted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty, which was reconfirmed at APEC right after the election of Donald Trump. It was almost too painful to watch Obama defending his not exactly spectacular legacy at his final international press conference – with, ironically, the backdrop of the South American Pacific coast – just as Chinese President Xi Jinping all but basked in his reiterated geopolitical glow, which he already shares with Putin.

As for Trump, though invisible in Lima, he was everywhere. The ritual burial, in Peru’s Pacific waters, of the «NATO on trade» arm of the pivot to Asia (first announced in October 2011 by Hillary Clinton) thus offered Xi the perfect platform to plug the merits of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), amply supported by China. RCEP is an ambitious idea aiming at becoming the world’s biggest free trade agreement; 46% of global population, with a combined GDP of $17 trillion, and 40% of world trade. RCEP includes the 10 ASEAN nations plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The RCEP idea was born four years ago at an ASEAN summit in Cambodia – and has been through nine rounds of negotiations so far. Curiously, the initial idea came from Japan – as a mechanism to combine the plethora of bilateral deals ASEAN has struck with its partners. But now China is in the lead. RCEP is also the fulcrum of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) – a concept that was introduced at an APEC meeting in Beijing by, who else, China, with the aim of seducing nations whose top trade partner is China away from entertaining…

Source: ZeroHedge

All Aboard The Post-TPP World

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