Before the end of 2016, Adriana Roldán, Associate Professor of Asia Pacific Studies from the Asia Pacific Studies Center of University EAFIT in Colombia and blogger of Shaping the Pacific Alliance has shared with us her general advice for enhancing relations with Asia and on the situation of Colombia with the conclusion of the Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) on the early days of October 2015.
Strategy to Enhance Relations with Asia
It is an objective of the Pacific Alliance (PA) to efficiently reach the Asia Pacific, but PA has not yet said how or when. Hence it is essential that the four members of the Alliance match and coordinate strategies on the following fronts.
• The ASEAN meetings are essential.
• A dialogue with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), since the six largest countries negotiating RCEP (China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, NZ and India) are also observers of the PA, while Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore are the most important members of ASEAN. PA should be included as an observer of the mechanism.
• APEC as a means to show presence. Colombia needs greater leadership in the CEO summits from now on, in order to somehow regain the presence lost between 2011 and 2014. Colombia should remain a participant within the working groups.
• The Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) through the Colombian Committee to PECC (COLPECC). This requires strengthening participation works.
• Forum of East-Asia Latin American Cooperation (FEALAC): continue to take part in meetings and try to participate as the integrated scheme PA.
Colombia and the Transpacific Partnership
In relation to TPP Colombia should consider three aspects:
• If Colombia enters it must accept and adhere to what has been already negotiated.
• TPP is a new generation agreement or a NAFTA+ thus, Colombia needs to examine in detail what has already been negotiated.
• TPP is an “ongoing process” this means that there will always be new issues to be negotiated and far-reaching topics for Colombia. The question here would be: if the Colombian Congress has not approved the FTA with Korea, which is a less far-reaching agreement, is it prepared to approve an agreement of new generation such as TPP? TPP provides for more stringent conditions on topics such as intellectual property, government procurement, services, investment, and agricultural market access. This issue must be examined thoroughly because the understanding of Congressmen to these topics is often different to the views of the academia or the government officials. My recommendation in regard to TPP is to carefully examine the negotiated texts of the agreements to assess if Colombia would be able to comply with the provisions established there. If Colombia is able to comply with the obligations and commitments set in the agreement it should present a formal application, but this aspiration must be accompanied through huge support from the government and its institutions.
Many thanks to Adriana for her insightful contributions!
Photocredits: Vichaya KiatyingAngsulee /FreeDigitalPhotos.net