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Divergence on Economic Regionalism

For a time the endgame appeared to be under way in TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) negotiations and attention was shifting from the potential competition between TPP, RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), and the CJK FTA (China-Japan-Korea Free Trade Agreement) to the implications of a TPP agreement for various countries. The United States continued to be the driving force, first prodding all parties to move ahead and then causing others to pause, as doubts were growing about whether Barack Obama would challenge his base in the Democratic Party prior to November’s mid-term elections and press Congress for the critical TPA (trade promotion authority) that offers assurance to U.S. partners of an up-or-down vote on any agreement that is reached. Japan clearly has emerged as the second central force in these negotiations, whose bilateral talks with the United States are the principal venue for deciding what the outcome will be. In the background, South Korea looms as the foremost bridge to the countries not currently part of the 12-nation negotiating group, declaring its interest in considering whether to join the talks even as it weighs the implications for the CJK talks (or a narrower bilateral FTA with China) and for RCEP. Japan too is perched between talks to bolster its place in East Asian and Asia-Pacific regionalism. In the early spring of 2014 negotiations had slowed, but debate continued in all of these countries over the possible impact of a deal on TPP. President Barack Obama’s late April visit to Japan was faulted for not reaching a deal, but it gave new momentum to the talks, increasing optimism that agreement is nearing.

This section contains the following chapters:

Introduction by Editor-in-Chief Gilbert Rozman

Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Integration: U.S. Strategy and Approach
Matthew Goodman, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)

Japan and Regional Integration Dominoes: Golden Opportunity or Another Political Failure?
Takashi Terada, Doshisha University

Korean Bridge: Balancing Asian Economic Regionalism Between the United States and China
Jin Kyo Suh, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)

China’s Choice: To Lead or to Follow on Asian Economic Integration
Xiaotong Zhang, Wuhan University Centre for Economic Diplomacy (WHUCED)

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