U.S. to join “P-4” negotiations on investment and financial services

The U.S. will be joining four Asia-Pacific countries to negotiate agreements on investment and financial services, said U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab today. Those negotiations are part of the 2006 Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership among Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, and Brunei, which has already been implemented. However, the investment and financial services chapters haven’t yet been negotiated.

The U.S. already has implemented Free Trade Agreements with Singapore and Chile, and has a pending FTA with South Korea. These negotiations would further expand the U.S. economic presence in the Asia-Pacific region, which is rapidly growing. Countries in that region have also been active in negotiating other significant trade agreements.

The USTR press release noted the U.S. may use these negotiations to perhaps seek to join the Partnership while the U.S. also pursues other opportunities for economic inroads in the Asia-Pacific region:

As it begins investment and financial services negotiations with the P-4 countries, the United States will also begin a detailed exploratory process to determine whether it should participate in the full Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership. The Administration will hold consultations on this proposal with Congress and a wide array of stakeholders over the coming months. Participation could provide a pathway to broader Asia-Pacific regional economic integration with like-minded countries committed to high-standard agreements. The United States is already pursuing further regional economic integration in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) through intensive exploration of the prospect of a Free Trade Area of the Asia- Pacific (FTAAP), as well as through bilateral FTAs, such at the pending agreement with South Korea.