Is the U.S. Missing the TPP Train?

August 26 2016, Bloomberg

"Renegotiation in search of a better deal that can win over critics in Washington isn’t an option, says Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, an advisory firm in Singapore. She adds: “As soon as the U.S. starts to modify the agreement, the other 11 countries are going to say, ‘We have things we would like to add.’ Then it unravels.”"

[...] "However, if the TPP has no future, then countries that had been counting on that agreement will instead push to make RCEP stronger. “They will double down on getting RCEP done and having a meaningful agreement,” says the Asian Trade Centre’s Elms. A TPP failure “really changes the dynamic of what happens in Asia.”"

PM Lee is right - this US Congress must pass the TPP

August 24 2016, The Straits Times

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an agreement that helps keep the US front and centre in the Asia-Pacific and we share Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's hope that the United States Congress will ratify it.

Former US trade official urges TPP concessions

August 22 2016, Radio New Zealand

Asian Trade Centre executive director Deborah Elms said the US was in danger of damaging its ability to negotiate free trade deals if TPP failed.

"Washington has this sense that somehow you cannot do the TPP, and everybody else will continue to negotiate with Washington. I think that's a mistake.

"I think if the TPP doesn't pass, I don't see why New Zealand would ever, at least in the near term, sit down with the Americans and negotiate on any other important trade deals. Because why would New Zealand do that? Why would Australia do that? Why would Japan do that?"

Aborting TPP Would Damage U.S. Trade Credibility : ATC

August 11 2016, Bloomberg TV Malaysia

The future credibility of trade deals involving the United States will be called into question if America chooses to withdraw from the TPP, says Deborah Elms, Asian Trade Centre executive director. She speaks to Bloomberg TV Malaysia's Sophie Kamaruddin.

Will US approve TPP in lame-duck period?

June 20 2016, Radio New Zealand

“But the executive director of the Asian Trade Centre in Singapore, Deborah Elms is hopeful the many years of negotiations will not be wasted.

"The few sensible people left in the room recognise that the odds of approval after that [November's elections] are not promising, and I think there are a number of people who've realised that it needs to get done," Dr Elms said.

Dr Elms and other TPP supporters are banking on Congress backing the TPP in the period between elections in November and mid-January - the so-called lame duck period.

"The lame-duck session is one where all rules don't apply. Lots of unpopular things get done in the lame-duck period, and I think in this particular lame-duck period TPP is the first thing on the agenda of unpopular things that will get done.””

Bid to get a China-backed Asia trade pact in 2016 seen failing short

June 17 2016, Reuters

“Deborah Elms, executive director of the private Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre, said progress wasn't anywhere near enough for a 2016 deal.

"If we are just talking about some countries making adjustments to initial offers we are not ready to close. We are not in that ballpark," she said.”

Spotlight: G20 must take action on slow global growth

May 26 2016, Xinhua

“With the Doha round still in a deadlock, experts expect G20 policymakers to seek progress in certain segments of trade when they gather in China's coastal city of Hangzhou in September.

"It's not going to be easy. But if you don't move forward, then the alternative, from my perspective, is not particularly promising, either, especially at a time when you have global slowdowns," said Deborah Elms, executive director of Asian Trade Center, a Singapore-based consultancy.”

Experts have put forward different explanations, citing both cyclical and structural factors, however, they remain unconvincing.

"It's puzzling. We don't have a clear understanding of what's going on really," Elms said. Elms said protectionism is one of the explanations. So is the slowdown of the world's major consumer markets and the fact that some companies are moving production closer to their final markets. However, she said the above still does entirely explain the slowdown.”

Overseas push critical for growth

March 7 2016, The Business Times

“"If you want to be really competitive in this global economy, you have to have services," said Deborah Elms of the Asian Trade Centre. "So that means you have to push your domestic firms to be competitive in the wider market.””

“Dr Elms called for more policy support to help smaller firms sharpen their competitive edge. Infrastructure for trade finance and payments, for example, can be improved so that firms can internationalise faster.

She also said more effective feedback channels may be needed so that the government will be in tune with what firms need to tap into market opportunities overseas.”

China's trade dispute with EU could turn ugly

January 30 2016, Straits Times

“"The non-market economy designation has become a symbol. It's hard to argue that you are a great power when you are one of a handful of countries that are non-market," Dr Deborah Elms of the Asian Trade Centre told The Straits Times.”

“Dr Elms said Chinese officials might even be unsure as to how they want to change WTO rules. "I think they just want to be taken seriously as a major player with the ability to influence the agenda... released from the constraints of the accession protocol," she said.”

What difference will TPP make for Singapore?

November 15 2015, Straits Times

“Says Dr Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, which does research on trade activities in Asia: "In the past, Singaporean firms might have had an advantage with their FTA benefits.  However, now competition in some TPP countries could come from new firms.””

And although Singapore already has free trade agreements with all of the TPP countries except Canada and Mexico, and other regional deals through Asean, they "do not have the same depth and breadth of commitments" as the TPP, says Dr Elms. This is because the TPP opens up more sectors than any of Singapore's previous FTAs, she explains.

Also, products assembled by Singapore companies from components sourced from Asean cannot be shipped into the US, Canada or Mexico under the current rules. But when the TPP goes into force, "parts and components can be added from across all 12 countries for shipment into the 12 markets", Dr Elms says.”

Company Stampede to Southeast Asia Seen on Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Pact

October 7 2015, Wall Street Journal

“The final agreement looks likely to be “the best trade liberalization we’ve seen in 20 years,” said Deborah Elms, co-founder and executive director of the Asian Trade Centre. “I expect there to be quite a stampede” of foreign investment in Southeast Asia when the final text of the agreement is published, she said.”

RCEP: The next trade deal you need to know about

October 14 2015, CNBC (video included)

“Deborah Elms, executive director at Asia Trade Centre, agrees: "The TPP has been viewed [with a fair amount of skepticism] by many of the RCEP countries. They were working towards a deadline at the end of the year ... but they were not under a great deal of pressure. Now that the TPP is closed, I think the pressure for some kind of high quality result out of RCEP is likely to mount.””

“Asia Trade Centre's Elms notes that a "lack of enthusiasm" for trade liberalization in countries such as India and Indonesia is "creating headaches for the more ambitiously-minded countries in the grouping.””

“"If you're not in the TPP and you don't have agreements with the European Union, that's a bit alarming [because] your major trading partners are not connected to you. So [China] will want to make sure that the supply chains in Asia work to their benefit as much as possible," Elms said.”

"Some of the ASEAN countries that are not in the TPP really need to have a higher quality outcome in RCEP [in order] to sustain the competitiveness of their own economies and the region as a whole," Elms told CNBC.”

TPP pact signed, but a tough road lies ahead

February 5 2016, Today Online

“Dr Deborah Elms, executive director of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre, told TODAY that if all 12 nations move quickly, the TPP could come into force within 60 days of the last member state completing its procedures, and this means that the TPP could be launched this year or early next year.

In an emailed response, she noted that TPP nations “created a second mechanism to bring the agreement into force — as long as at least Japan and the US and four other members have finished (ratification) procedures, the deal starts automatically in April 2018”.”

Trade expert sees US Congress hardening against TPP

January 29 2016, National Business Review (NBR)

“Dr Deborah Elms, Executive Director, of the Asian Trade Centre, sums up:

This election cycle has seen increasing tensions in the Republican party.  A rise of protectionism appears to have led many candidates to push back against free-trade and free-market ideas.  Perceptions matter and many potential voters on the campaign trail seem convinced that global trade has caused them to suffer significant economic harm with limited benefits.” (continued)

Are TPP negotiations finally coming to an end?

September 29 2015, The Online Citizen

7 quotes, including:

“Executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, Dr Deborah Elms, described the TPP as "game-changing", but said it was "not appreciated in many respects". With the agreement aimed at opening up a majority – if not all – of various sectors for investment, negotiations have been tricky as countries have sought to get the best deal for themselves while not giving too much ground in terms of their own protectionist policies.”

“One major issue holding up agreement on the terms of the TPP is that of dairy, Elms said. Canada, a member state, currently has very protectionist measures over its dairy industry and market, with a system in place to keep out foreign – and especially American – dairy products. The Canadian dairy industry also has a strong political voice in Canada – a fact that politicians cannot ignore as the country goes into campaign mode for the next federal election.”

TPP signed: the reactions from Asia

October 7 2015, Global Trade Review

““The academic in me is a bit disappointed as the academic would say you should hit 100%,” Deborah Elms, chair of the Asian Trade Centre tells GTR. “But the reality is that will never happen, so the question is: how far off 100% are you? I think we’re looking at 97% or 98% overall. Even sectors that didn’t get everything they want for the most part got more than they have now.”

““You don’t have to have all 12 economies there at the start. The rules have been drafted so you can have probably eight members covering ‘x%’ of global trade, because they want to make sure to have both the US and Japan at the start. But this gives some wriggle room to countries to decide we don’t want to be there at the beginning,” Elms says.”

Why sign free trade pacts

November 16 2015, Straits Times

“Similarly, Asia Trade Centre executive director Deborah Elms says "the battle in the US will be tough" .

"Members of Congress do not see many benefits from voting on trade agreements and an election year in 2016 makes taking a tough vote even harder," she adds.”

Winners and losers in the world's biggest trade deal

July 28 2015, CNBC

“"The biggest winner will be Vietnam as foreign investors start to flood the country. Number two might be Malaysia and number three is Japan," Deborah Elms, executive director at Asia Trade Centre, told CNBC on Tuesday.”

“For Japan, the opening of services markets is a major advantage, explained Elms of Asia Trade Centre. A TPP deal would open the services markets of each member nation to one another, and because Japan's services sector is relatively uncompetitive, it has a lot of room to grow, she said.”

“"This deadline is truly a real deadline [compared to previous ones] because the window is essentially shut," Elms said. "If no agreement is signed by this weekend, countries will have to wait until after the next U.S. presidential election in 2017. By then, who knows what will have happened? I would not like the odds of success then. It's make-or-break now.””

Xi Jinping reiterates US invitation to AIIB

September 23 2015, Global Trade Review

““I think with the AIIB, there is a potential economic part. There is money to be made if you can increase the infrastructure, in both delivering and using said infrastructure. But there is a political part of this, saying: we want to show that we can play a role since we’ve been so cut out of leadership positions in things like the ADB, World Bank, IMF, we will just make our own thank you very much,” Deborah Elms, chair of the Asia Trade Centre, tells GTR.”

Singapore’s Open Economy to See Limited Benefits From TPP

November 19 2015, World Politics Review (paywall)

“In an email interview, Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, discussed the TPP and its expected impact on Singapore’s economy. …”

Thailand's tough choice: TPP or RCEP

October 27 2015, The Nation

“Singapore-based trade expert Deborah Elms said: "With only some Asean countries poised to enjoy the benefits of TPP [currently Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam]; and RCEP poised to link Asean's dialogue partners - including China and India - for the first time, it is more important than ever for Asean to complete its goals under the AEC (Asean Economic Community”.”

Vietnam companies show little interest in TPP

December 15 2015, Thanh Nien News

“The final agreement looks likely to be “the best trade liberalization we’ve seen in 20 years,” Deborah Elms, co-founder and executive director of the Asian Trade Center, said.

“I expect there to be quite a stampede” of foreign investment in Southeast Asia when the final text of the agreement is published, she added.”

TPP helps Vietnam balance economic dependence on China

16 October 2015, VietNamNet Bridge

“Deborah Elms, CEO of the Asia Trade Centre based in Singapore, has the same views with Ambassador Ted Osius, saying that many foreign investors will flock to Vietnam after the TPP takes effect.”

RCEP trade talks in Korea gaining global attention as the emerging Asian equivalent of US-led TPP

October 17 2015, International Business Times (AU)

““If you're not in the TPP and you don't have agreements with the European Union, that's a bit alarming because your major trading partners are not connected to you. So China will want to make sure that the supply chains in Asia work to their benefit as much as possible,” said Deborah Elms, Executive Director at Asian Trade Centre.”

““Some of the ASEAN countries that are not in the TPP really need to have a higher quality outcome in RCEP in order to sustain the competitiveness of their own economies and the region as a whole,” Elms told CNBC.”

Negotiators hope to wrap up Trans-Pacific Partnership talks this month

August 6 2015, Los Angeles Times

“Deborah Elms, a trade specialist in Singapore, called the Hawaii meetings a big letdown given the expectations that a final agreement would be reached.

"I think the plan was to have John Kerry to do a victory lap in Singapore — to say that the pivot [to Asia] is here," said Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Center, a research and consulting firm. If the next round of talks happens in conjunction with the Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Malaysia on Aug. 22 to 25, as is being discussed, Elms said she doubted there was enough time to resolve their differences.”

Why US-Japan trade talks are a political theater

April 21 2015, CNBC

“"Even if the economic argument is 100 percent…it's not, because [we] live in a political world," Asian Trade Centre (ATC) executive director Deborah Kay Elms told CNBC. "At this point we're in a little bit of political theater for both sides.””

“And so, at least for now, the Japanese government will fight to keep Japan's 500 percent tariff on rice imports in place, noted ATC's Elms.”

TPP Versus RCEP: What Are The Odds For Thailand? – Analysis

April 6 2016, Eurasia Review

“On the other hand, Singapore-based trade expert Deborah Elms has said, “With only some ASEAN countries poised to enjoy the benefits of TPP (currently Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam); and RCEP poised to link ASEAN’s dialogue partners – including China and India – for the first time, it is more important than ever for ASEAN to complete its goals under the AEC (Asean Economic Community)”.25 It is said that RCEP can create huge benefits and help offset potential losses caused by the TPP.”

What Caused the TPP Talks to Fall Apart?

August 3 2015, Bloomberg

VIDEO

Singapore’s demands complicate TPP — U.S.-India statement wide-ranging — EU nods to TTIP secrecy concerns

November 26 2014, Politico

““You have the issue that these are not, in Singapore’s view, SOEs like any other — certainly not like the loss-making, corrupt firms found elsewhere in this region,” said Deborah Elms, executive director of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre.

As US and China meet at APEC summit, a drama involving billions in trade

November 7 2014, Christian Science Monitor

“Because it has no authority to impose anything, “APEC has always faced the challenge of justifying its existence,” says Deborah Elms, founder of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre, a new think tank.”

“The 12 trade ministers "have been working unbelievably hard,” says Elms. “I think ... they will try to substantially conclude” this week, she adds, though some contentious issues of market access may need to be resolved next year.”

Senate compromise gives Obama ‘fair’ Pacific trade deal

May 14 2015, Financial Times

““While Washington has gotten stuck in partisan battles over [fast-track authority], the timing for TPP has only gotten worse,” Deborah Elms, the executive director of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday.”

““This ‘procedural’ issue in the United States Senate … could end up like the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings,” she wrote. “The consequences of this delay could, indeed, reverberate for a long time to come.””

Mega pacts and the fight for Asia's trade future

December 19 2014, The Nation

“"The TPP can be broader and deeper in part because it's a voluntary agreement - members choose to join," says Deborah Elms, executive director of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre.

"The RCEP countries got 'drafted' by virtue of existing agreements. They therefore have differing levels of enthusiasm for the whole exercise.””

“Elms is among those who expect China to eventually join the TPP. "Chinese firms are increasingly in supply chains and not just as a final assembly point. The benefits for firms inside the TPP will be substantial," she says. But Menon believes the FTAAP is a more likely route than an expanded TPP.”

Free-trade pacts: America’s big bet

November 15 2014, The Economist

“Deborah Elms, head of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Centre, suggests that so far the American pivot has manifested itself mainly as an extra 1,000 marines stationed in Australia. “Without TPP, all the pivot amounts to is a few extra boots on the ground in Darwin,” she says.”

Trans-Pacific Partnership talks stall on US-Japan stand-off

February 25 2014, Financial Times

““Deborah Elms, a trade negotiations expert at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, said that the failure of the US and Japan to move on market access had meant it was impossible for other countries to move on their respective issues.

“I think what it tells us is that unless and until you get serious high level engagement and focus and a commitment to making those politically sensitive decisions, you are going to be in a state of drift,” she said.”