TPP, RCEP and FTAAP: How the trade deals differ

TPP: TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

A United States-led trade deal struck by 12 countries on the Pacific Rim, which together account for 40 per cent of the global economy.

The signatories are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

The TPP was signed last year, but before it can come into force, it has to be approved by the Parliaments of all 12 countries. If this is not done after two years, it could also become binding on all members if at least six countries - including the US and Japan - have successfully ratified it.

As the US Congress will not pass it before US President-elect Donald Trump - who has consistently made known his opposition to it - takes office in January, the largest trade deal in more than a decade may very likely come to nothing.

RCEP: REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP

A free trade agreement first mooted in 2011 between the 10 Asean members and six other countries in the region - Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. Negotiations are ongoing.

Seven of these 16 countries are signatories to the TPP, but the United States is notably not included.

One key difference between the RCEP and the TPP is that while the RCEP is expected to cover standard items such as trade in goods and services, investments and dispute settlements, it may not extend to areas such as the environment and labour and food safety standards - like with the TPP.

FTAAP: FREE TRADE AREA OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC

A trade deal involving 21 economies that are part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec). Discussions began in 2006 and were championed by Beijing when it hosted Apec in 2014. The deal will build on existing frameworks, involving the myriad of regional and bilateral pacts signed by Apec members.

It has been suggested that the RCEP and TPP could eventually be subsumed under it.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'TPP, RCEP and FTAAP: How the trade deals differ'. Print Edition | Subscribe