Wednesday, November 23, 2016

US exit from TPP to impact security architecture in Asia-Pacific

By Ritu Sharma  |  Express News Service  |   Published: 22nd November 2016 10:42 PM  |  
Last Updated: 23rd November 2016 12:09 AM  |   
NEW DELHI: US President-elect Donald Trump’s resolve to undo the Obama administration’s recalibration of Asia-Pacific strategic equations by pulling out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement will force India — where US anchored its Asia-Pacific policy — to rethink its Look East Initiative. The agreement was signed this year after seven years of protracted negotiations between 12 Pacific Rim countries.
The aim was to counter China’s growing clout by bringing together its neighbours and reduce their dependence on Chinese trade.
One of the most ambitious trade agreements, it covered 800 million people and accounted for 40 per cent of global trade.
Former Ambassador and security expert P Stobdan said a US pullout as promised by Trump could threaten the US’ Asia rebalancing.

“Walking out from TPP threatens the US strategy of rebalancing Asia, which amounted to India-Japan-US
security cooperation,” said Stobdan.
India was not part of the TPP, but it has been an important instrument of realpolitik for Washington and New Delhi as they sought to counter the rise of an assertive China without hurting their economic equations with the country.
In the rebalancing of its resources in Asia-Pacific, the US saw India’s role as the “lynchpin” of the strategy.
The US’ “Pivot to Asia” and India’s “Act East” policies conflate. Washington sees India as having a greater role in providing security and stability in the region.
The two strategies have been shaping the security order in the region as India was reinvigorating its ties with Asian powers like Japan and Australia that has rattled China greatly.
Former foreign secretary and ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao said the way forward from an uninterested US could be strengthening economic ties between ASEAN countries. “We were never a part of TPP.
Perhaps the way forward for the region is to intensify efforts towards a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).” RCEP is seen as a counter to TPP as it would include more than 3 billion people or 45% of the world's population, and would have a combined GDP of about $21.3 trillion, accounting for about 40 per cent of world trade.
Rao said Beijing would be growing more assertive in the future as the US’ close economic and military ties with the Pacific Rim while giving established markets to Washington also acted as a check against growing Chinese power for the countries. “Watch the Asia-Pacific space for an even more assertive China,” she added.
The US had decided to deploy 60 per cent of its military assets in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020.

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