The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Looking Ahead to the Next Steps
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Pressure has been building for the conclusion of the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Getting the deal done is important, but the TPP is not just another free trade agreement (FTA). It represents the chance to set a trade agenda for the future across a wide range of topics for countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region. This means that the agreement should not be settled in haste. More importantly, it also means that key decisions need to be reached about broader issues related to the institutional structure of the TPP. These decisions must be made now, before the deal is closed, on issues such as how to create the TPP as a living agreement, the formation of a TPP Secretariat, and the clarification of entry conditions for future members such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC). These choices must be made deliberately and carefully even while officials are struggling with reaching closure on the most highly sensitive issues still remaining in the agreement. It will not be easy, but wise decisions are necessary now to ensure the long-term success of the TPP.