Korea must proceed with TPP
The U.S.-led free-trade agenda gained traction after the U.S. Senate passed a law empowering the president to “fast-track” talks on pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Under the Trade Promotion Authority, the U.S. Congress can only vote for or against a signed treaty and has no say in modifications or amendments.
With the final domestic stumbling block removed, Washington plans to finalize negotiations with member governments and be ready for legislative ratification on the TPP within the year.
Once launched, the 12 member countries - the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - will come under a single trade zone.
Their combined gross domestic product accounts for roughly 40 percent of the global economy.
The creation of the TPP will inevitably trigger a sea change in the world trade order, and not just because of the scale of the agreement.
The TPP is an entirely new trade concept in which 12 countries with economies of different sizes and income levels are bound by the same trade standard, agreement and series of regulations.
Since we have decided to join the framework late, we do not have any say in the regulations that have already been drawn up.
Among the TPP countries, Korea only lacks bilateral free-trade pacts with Japan and Mexico.
Once Korea joins the framework, it will enter into a bilateral free-trade agreement with Japan without separate negotiations.
Although the details of the trade terms are not known, they likely won’t be favorable for Korea compared to its FTA with China.
The new trade terms could create more friction between Seoul and Tokyo, whose ties are already chilly due to historical issues.
But we cannot back out of the TPP now.
Washington is pushing ahead with the TPP as a kind of duel with Beijing over the trade bloc.
Ties between Washington and Tokyo would become tighter than ever on both economic and security fronts.
Seoul must accelerate its participation in the TPP and try to secure a favorable position in the comprehensive economic, foreign and security context.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 27, Page 26