There has been much to-do about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or the TPP, in recent news. But what exactly is the TPP? Here’s a brief explanation of the TPP and where current negotiations stand.


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The TPP is a trade agreement, the purpose of which is to promote growth, manage trade, and integrate several economies within the Asia-Pacific region of the world. An expansion from the 2005 Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (TPSEP or P4), the TPP has been in negotiation since 2010 and includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam. Additionally, Taiwan and South Korea have expressed interest in joining the TPP negotiations as well.

The current countries that are a part of the group represent about 40 percent of the global gross domestic product, and the TPP aims to strengthen the ties between those countries and help trade flow more smoothly.

Some have suggested that the TPP is the U.S.’s way of nudging out China as the economic power of the Asia-Pacific region. Sean King of Park Strategies addressed this issue in a recent interview with Channel News Asia, saying, “I think in some ways the U.S. is less obsessed with keeping China down that people think. But I think what the U.S. wants to do is let the countries around China, especially allies and friends of ours… know that there is an alternative to china. They need and feel dominated by China in the region economically, but there is an alternative with the U.S. and other like-minded nations. So I don’t think we’ve launched it to keep China down, I think we launched it to give other countries in the region an alternative.”

After four days of recent negotiations in Singapore, the TPP has found major sticking points when it comes to tariffs and imported goods—particularly between Japan and the U.S. Despite these differences, though, the 12 trade ministers say they have “made progress on market access, which is an important part of our remaining work.”

“This has been a very good meeting and we’ve made significant progress,” said U.S. trade negotiator Michael Froman. Many are hoping for further progress to be made when President Barack Obama visits Japan in late April.