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could TPP be salvaged as the remaining 11 members plus one?

Kitty Miv, Editor
07 February, 2017

Kitty's Country Rankings are below, with a description of how they are compiled. This week, as every week, I give out Encomiums to countries which have done Good Things, and award Execrations for countries which according to my highly personal and partial views have done Bad Things.

Just 20 years ago, had anyone suggested that China would become an economic powerhouse, people would likely have thought they'd lost the plot. A communist governed nation with a capitalist economy? Impossible!

Post-2008 financial crisis, when the developed West was contemplating how to pull back from the precipice not of recession, but depression, and one wonders quite how the world economy might have coped without China's dragon-fired growth. This has created a strange dichotomy: China the superhero, helping to keep advanced economies from the jaws of dire austerity; and China the supervillain, accused of protectionism and worse.

With the US having exited stage left from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), though, it is perhaps of little surprise that most eyes fell on China. It took Australia to suggest what others were thinking: could the TPP be salvaged as the remaining 11 members plus one, i.e., China?

Indeed, China looks to be increasingly comfortable grabbing some of the center-stage limelight, having delivered a confident speech at the annual Davos gabfest on how the country is looking outwards globally, as well as pushing ahead with leading negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Is China about to abandon its protectionist stance, and become a fully immersed global player?

Okay, maybe for now that's a step too far, but China certainly is making some interesting noises lately.

Back to the TPP, and I'm left wondering if Australia might have been a little unambitious with its "plus one" suggestion. How about "plus two" – with the other jurisdiction being one also making much noise very recently on its keenness to reach out for wider global free trade agreements? In other words, how about bringing in the United Kingdom?

No doubt the more observant will be thinking, "Hold on – the UK is located in the north-east Atlantic, not the Pacific." Yes, it is indeed; but it also, of course, once had an empire, which largely forms what is now the Commonwealth of Nations with Queen Elizabeth II serving as its head. Of the jurisdictions that are members of the TPP, five are also Commonwealth nations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, and Singapore) – and not forgetting the UK's close economic ties with a certain Hong Kong, former overseas territory of the UK, and now a territory of an increasingly more outward looking China. So perhaps not so crazy an idea after all.

Lateral thinking; it can be a powerful thing.



Tags: Davos | China (CH)

About the Author

Kitty Miv, Editor

Kitty was born in Argentina in 1960 to a Scottish cattle rancher and his Argentine wife. Educated in Edinburgh and at Princeton, Kitty worked for the World Bank as an economist, where she met and married an emigre Iranian banker. During her time with the Bank, Kitty worked in a number of emerging markets, including a spell in the ex-USSR as a Transition Economies Team Leader. Kitty is now a consultant in Brussels and has free-lance writing relationships with a number of prominent economic publications. kitty@lowtax.net


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