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JPI PeaceTalk
Subject Trans-Pacific Partnership: an Assessment of Its Political Economy & Peace (Dr. Sethaput SUTHIWART-NARUEPUT)
Author JPI  (admin)
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2016-10-18 오전 11:10:26





[2016-6]




Dr. Sethaput SUTHIWART-NARUEPUT discusses Trans-Pacific Partnership: an Assessment of Its Political Economy & Peace




[Trans-Pacific Partnership: an Assessment of Its Political Economy]


Q1. Some critics believe that the real purpose of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is to counter the Northeast Asia order built by China through its Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). What do you think about successful regional economic communities, including TPP?

The TPP can and should be an integral part of a successful regional community. But a truly successful regional community will require much more than the TPP. With TPP we seem to have gone from what’s normally a trade with some agreement on standards, to an agreement on standards with some trade thrown in, and that’s not in the best interest of developing countries.
Another issue with TPP is that we see a lot of countries in the region will have very limited bargaining power. We see that in the approach that the United States took in arranging the TPP in that it essentially negotiated first with smaller countries and then offered a virtual "take it or leave it" deal with larger countries such as Japan. The fact that the list of initial signatories is what it was probably therefore reflects geopolitical as much as purely economic concerns.
While it can be an important part of a regional economic community, it needs to be complemented with other things, such as greater progress under the WTO or alternative trading arrangements, such as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). If nothing else, it will help developing countries have more bargaining power if they decide to pursue the TPP.

Q2. What do you think should be South Korea's role and strategy in Northeast Asia in terms of Asia's new order and cooperative leadership?

The theme of the Jeju Forum is very timely. It comes at a time when there is a need for greater international leadership not just in Asia but in the world as a whole to protect and promote critical elements of the international order.
If you look very broadly, so much of the prosperity in the region has been due to globalization—the free flow of trade, investment, and increasingly, of people and ideas. But these ideas are coming under attack he says, pointing to trends present even in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, which have traditionally have been the champions of globalization and the elements of a freer trade regime. The concern that I have is that the terms of the policy debate have changed. Political leaders and policy makers will find them that much more difficult to ignore the anti-globalization constituency that has become more vocal.
It’s very important that we find new champions for the globalization that has driven so much of the world’s prosperity. Korea is in a very good position to play that role. The international and multilateral trading system has served South Korea well. Now South Korea can help promote and preserve it as well. It can do this in many ways. If South Korea were to join the TPP, for example, it should seek to preserve the best elements of the multilateral system as part of its TPP negotiations and agreement. This would benefit the region as a whole, especially other smaller countries in the region with less bargaining power than Korea who are considering joining TPP.


[On Peace]


Q1. How should scholars and researchers contribute to peace promotion?

Think tanks and researchers have an important role by acting as the conscience of the international community. They can promote peace and prosperity by informing and raising the level of public debate on important issues like the value of globalization and freer markets. These are the engines that have made the most contribution to prosperity and peace in the region. But they are increasingly under attack. Think tanks and researchers therefore have to act as the voice of reason—saying things which might be unpopular but true—to prevent people from being seduced by the appeal of populist rhetoric promising quick and easy fixes and making globalization and trade a convenient scapegoat for many of the ills faced by people.

Q2. How might multilateral talks such as the Jeju Forum contribute to peace promotion?

I think there is no better or more lasting way to promote peace and prosperity than for us to make the transition from just recognizing or merely tolerating our differences, to really valuing such differences. If we all produced the same things, there would be less value from exchanging and trading things. With less trade, there would be less prosperity. Similarly, if we all think the same way, there would be less value from exchanging ideas.
I think there is no better or more lasting way to promote peace and prosperity than for us to make the transition from just recognizing or merely tolerating our differences, to really valuing such differences. If we all produced the same things, there would be less value from exchanging and trading things. With less trade, there would be less prosperity. Similarly, if we all think the same way, there would be less value from exchanging ideas.
As one example of this, I first participated in the Jeju Forum a few years ago. I remember attending a session on how the local government and universities were working together to use local history and folklore to and promote tourist spots in Jeju. I found the session tremendously thought-provoking. Tourism is critical for Thailand, but it has really lagged in increasing the value-added from tourism. We have a rich history and folklore which would lend itself well to the approach taken by Jeju. In many talks I have given in Thailand, I often reference what was being done by Jeju. I hope to plant the germ of an idea to try something similar somewhere in Thailand, just like that idea was planted in me at the session in Jeju several years ago.



 * Dr. Sethaput SUTHIWART-NARUEPUT is the executive chairman of  the Thailand Future Foundation.




Dr. Sethaput SUTHIWART-NARUEPUT believes TPP can and should be an integral part of a successful regional community, but a truly successful regional community will require much more than the TPP. While individual countries in the region can and do benefit from preferential access under TPP, most countries in the region as a whole—especially the developing ones—would be collectively better served by larger progress in multilateral liberalization.
Dr. SUTHIWART-NARUEPUT warned that if you look very broadly, so much of the prosperity in the region has been due to globalization—the free flow of trade, investment, and increasingly, of people and ideas. But these ideas are coming under attack he says, pointing to trends present even in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, which have traditionally have been the champions of globalization and the elements of a freer trade regime. Dr. SUTHIWART-NARUEPUT says it is very important that we find new champions for globalization, which has driven so much of the world’s prosperity. He says that South Korea is in a very good position to play that role, because its trajectory can demonstrate the benefits of embracing globalization and freer markets.
Multilateral talks can assist peace promotion by bringing together different people from different fields from different countries, he says. The Jeju Forum is one example of this, as it facilitates the kind of exchange of ideas that will help the transition from merely recognizing and tolerating our differences to truly valuing such differences and then learning from them. 





* Interviewed on May 26, 2016 (Jeju Forum 2016)
Posted on October 18, 2016