The reinvigorated interest of closer relations with the PA by some of the observer states is partly attributed to the uncertain future of the TPP. With a grey cloud over the TPP, the negotiating countries are hoping to update and expand their network of commercial agreements through new channels. It is not a coincidence that, except for Colombia, the rest of original members and all the potential associate members were previous TPP negotiating parties. It would not be a surprise that they would attempt to capitalise on the issues already agreed on the TPP table when negotiating their associate member agreements. I will discuss here some concerns around the future negotiations.
Firstly, as the Pacific Alliance members and the candidates to associate members have started the negotiating process for future commercial agreements of ‘high standards’ it is timely to examine what the original PA members have in mind to put real content into an agreement of this kind. It is necessary to set the expectations and offensive interests that the PA members will put forward as a group rather than individually. Hopefully, the association agreements would be more than a form of a TPP-minus accord, where the concessions made in response to the US pressures in the context of the TPP would be withdrawn from these association agreements, and the rest will be kept untouched in the form of informal diffusion of TPP rules.
It would also be important to set a standard as to how the PA will push to incorporate disciplines in the areas of cooperation that are of interest for the mechanism: (i) movement of persons, (ii) education, (iii) trade facilitation, (iv) science technology and innovation and SMEs.