Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Japan, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regionalism

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Professor Shujiro Urata, from Waseda University, is speaking on "Japan, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and regionalism". The region referred to is the Asia-pacific and East Asia.

Professor Urata started by pointing out Japan's deflation, increasing government debt, low labor productivity, declining savings rate and declining population. He showed a diagram of the electronics production between Korea, China and Japan and then exported to the USA. He compared this complex arrangement with the simpler North American production, between the USA and Mexico. An even more complex process is for production of hard disk drives in Asia. He also pointed out there are more free trade agreements in existence and proposed. One curious aspect of Professor Urat's presentation was the lack of mention of service industries. After iron ore, coal and natural gas, education is Australia's fourth largest export earner.A TPP which increases access to manufacturing industry is not much use to Australia.

It would be interesting to compare the international production of electronic goods with education. It the educated student is considered the "product", how international is that education? My interest is in the TPP and higher education services. Jessop (2016) discusses efforts by Asian countries to become knowledge based economies (KBE), including Taiwan's  ‘Green Silicon Island’ strategy and ‘e-Taiwan’ project, South Korea's "Brain Korea 21" and "Brain Korea 21 Plus" for national innovation, Singapore's ‘Intelligent Island’ and ‘Intelligent Nation 2015’. Jessop (2016) identifies the OECD as an advocate for economic development trough vocational training and lifelong learning. As part of this education becomes an arm of economic, rather than social, development and an international industry.  Bhoothalingam (p. 51, 2016) suggests that India could regain its historic role as a provider of regional education, given its strength in English language high volume delivery of courses using IT. Lester (2013) draws a link between trade liberalization and on-line university courses, particularly MOOCs.

Jen T. Kwok, from the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), suggests:
  • "The capacity for future Australian governments to direct public subsidies for education appears to be protected (as a result of civil society and union pressure) through Chapter 10 and Annex II: Schedule for Australia, and specifically in relation to: autonomy in admissions policies, setting tuition rates, development of curricula or course content; non-discriminatory accreditation and quality assurance procedures for education and training institutions; government funding, subsidies or grants; the need for education and training institutions to comply with non-discriminatory requirements related to the establishment and operation of a facility."
  • "However, Chapter 9, the Investment Chapter has the effect of locking-in and intensifying pressures of commercialisation and privatisation. It establishes rules that bind nation-states not only on the basis of regulatory differences between domestic and non-domestic investors, but on the basis of an effect that results in ‘expropriation’ or ‘nationalisation’ of an investment for international providers, including in relation to changes to ‘licences, authorisations, permits and similar rights’ conferred pursuant to the law. This means, a for-profit VET provider owned from overseas could demand compensation from the Australian government if they changed laws which meant that they could not enrol domestic students or could not access public subsidies where those requirements would mean a loss of investment."
  • "Some Chapters indeed facilitate trade in private education. Article 10.6 means Australian ‘service suppliers’ (higher education providers) are not required to establish a company in the relevant nation for the purposes of cross-border supply (also means MIT does not need a local campus to deliver Engineering course to Australia). Australia has a side agreement with Vietnam which effectively prevents them from re-nationalising higher education."
  • "In relation to academic mobility, Chapter 12 empowers short term stays for skilled and non-skilled labour because the phrase ‘business person’ is so broadly defined. There are more strict regulations in terms of the recognition of qualifications but these can be easily diluted if our government reaches an agreement with another nation to accept the qualification status of professionals from another country."
  • "Australian education providers are now able to compete for government procurement contracts in relation to:

    o Primary, secondary, and higher education services in Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico and Peru;
    o Adult education services in Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Japan, Malaysia and Peru; and
    o Research and development services in Brunei Darussalam and Peru." 
From: TPP impacts on education and education services, NTEU, 16 November 2015


Bhoothalingam, R. (2016). The Silk Road as a Global Brand. China Report, 52(1), 45-52. Retrieved from

Jessop, B. (2016). Putting higher education in its place in (East Asian) political economy. Comparative Education, 1-18. Retrieved from

Lester, S. (2013). Liberalizing cross-border trade in higher education: The coming revolution of online universities. Cato Institute Policy Analysis, (720). Retrieved from

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