US announces TPP workshops to recruit new members

World Today

President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, center, after posing for a group photo with other leaders of ASEAN, the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, Calif. From left are, Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

40 percent of the global economy has signed onto the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, but the Americans still want more countries to join.

On day one of the two-day U.S.-ASEAN summit in Rancho Mirage, California, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new U.S.-ASEAN trade workshop.

The workshop will help ASEAN “to understand the provisions and requirements of TPP because a number of countries have expressed interest in joining TPP,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker told reporters.

Four members of ASEAN are already members of TPP: Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines have expressed interest in joining as well. Two of the region’s major economies, China and the Republic of Korea, are not party to the agreement, but Pritzker described the TPP as an “open architecture” which is still open to other countries to join.

“It’s meant to be that countries that can live up to the high standards of this agreement should have an opportunity to join the agreement eventually,” said Pritzker, “but to do that, you have to understand what’s entailed, and this is a wonderful step forward…to train countries as to what’s in the agreement, what does it take, what are the kinds of laws and rules that you have to have to be a part of the type of 21st century trade agreement.”

At least three U.S. companies also sent CEO’s to be part of the economic discussions with ASEAN trade ministers: IBM, Cisco and Microsoft.
Their focus was on discussing ways these developing economies can leapfrog traditional economic development using emerging technology.

“The opportunity is that countries can solve problems previously unsolvable and healthcare is one of those, said Ginny Rometty, CEO of IBM. “In this new world we’re entering…you’ll be able to do things like bring world class healthcare to every single person in any one of these countries, and so that offers, that type of thing offers a chance to leapfrog.”

That creates opportunities for U.S. Companies to create technology that helps small and medium sized businesses create jobs and government services. One of the main goals of TPP for the U.S. is to provide greater access for American companies to the ASEAN region which represents the seventh largest economy in the world.

“I think the core promise of this generation of technology is not just driving the consumption of technology in those countries, but it’s to create world class technology to be accessible to the entrepreneurs in that country, small and medium-sized businesses in that country, even public sector so they can go on to create great digital services and products, and of course, those digital services and products as these economies diversify, are going to find new markets, new growth for those countries, said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

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