Washington may join negotiations on investment and financial services with the “P-4” group of Singapore, New Zealand, Chile and Brunei.  We’re hardly opposed to this initiative, but a recent U.S. Chamber announcement went too far in expressing hope that these talks “will serve as a catalyst to open markets for U.S. exports and investment across the Asia-Pacific region, including Latin America.” Moreover: “this ‘P-plus’ arrangement could also lay the foundation for a free trade agreement among the 21 members of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.”Talk about trying to make it sound breathtaking!  We already have free trade agreements with the pro-trade government of Singapore and Chile.  Tiny Brunei, with oil deposits and large bank accounts, is hardly typical of the region.  And what’s notable about our talks with NZ is that we aren’t broaching the idea of a full free trade agreement that – unlike an accord on just investment and financial services — would directly benefit U.S. electroindustry exports.   Yet, in addition to long-standing differences over NZ’s “nuclear-free” policy, they have well-founded gripes about our various agricultural protections & subsidies.  Indeed, how is there ever going to be an APEC FTA if we act as though we’re scared of the Kiwis!


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