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President Obama’s twice-deferred trip to Indonesia is now scheduled for the week after next, and will be combined with a visit to Australia. In the familiar phrase, these visits come at the ‘best of times and the worst of times.’ It is the best of times because US relations with both Jakarta and Canberra have never been better.

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United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced that the United States would enter into formal negotiations on a regional, Asia- Pacific trade agreement known formally as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (also known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP). The first negotiating session of this group will meet this week, March 15–19, in Melbourne, Australia.

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The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement was signed by New Zealand, Chile and Singapore on 18 July 2005 and by Brunei on 2 August 2005, following the conclusion of negotiations in June 2005. A binding Environment Cooperation Agreement and a binding Labour Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding, which had been negotiated as part of the Trans-Pacific package, were signed concurrently.

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The United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement, sometimes called the Colombia Free Trade Agreement or FTA, was signed on November 22, 2006.The Colombia FTA is a comprehensive free trade agreement.  When the Colombia FTA enters into force, Colombia will immediately eliminate most of its tariffs on U.S. exports, with all remaining tariffs phased out over defined time periods.

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The United States and the Republic of Korea signed the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) on June 30, 2007. If approved, the Agreement would be the United States' most commercially significant free trade agreement in more than 16 years.The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the reduction of Korean tariffs and tariff-rate quotas on goods alone would add $10 billion to $12 billion to annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product and around $10 billion to annual merchandise exports to Korea.

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The United States and Panama signed a trade promotion agreement, sometimes called a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)on June 28, 2007. Panama approved the TPA on July 11, 2007. The United States has not yet approved the TPA.U.S.-Panama FTA is a comprehensive free trade agreement that can result in significant liberalization of trade in goodsand services, including financial services.

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We now know, courtesy of Wikileaks, that the assessment of Japan’s DPJ, at the highest levels of the US government, was that it was ‘completely different’ from the LDP.At first, this appeared to be the case. It was not just the Futenma debacle, although that was bad enough. The Hatoyama government’s apparent reneging on an earlier US base realignment agreement was taken as a signal that the new DPJ administration not only wanted to put greater distance between itself and the United States but also desired to reduce the American military presence in Japan.

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The recommendation on negotiating position and strategies for Vietnam in TPP negotiations is made by the Committee on International Trade Policies of VCCI on behalf of Vietnamese business community to send to the state Agencies in charge of negotiating TPP. This Recommendation is made on the basis of desk study, discussion among specialists, survey on business associations and enterprises’ opinions.Download the Recommendation Draft here:

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Challenges for Vietnam in the TPP Negotiations

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IntroductionThe TPP was previously known as the Pacific Three Closer Economic Partnership (P3-CEP), its negotiations launched on the sidelines of the 2002 APEC Leaders' Meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, by Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and Prime Ministers Goh Chok Tong of Singapore and Helen Clark of New Zealand. Brunei first took part as a full negotiating party in the fifth round of talks in April 2005, after which the trade bloc became known as the Pacific-4 (P4).

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