Despite the swirl of negativity following it in the world’s press, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership is actually seen as beneficial by the majority of businesses and consumers in the countries that have signed it.
According to independent research carried out by Edelman, 69 per cent of businesses and 67 per cent of consumers from TPP nations believe the free trade deal, which was signed last week by 12 member nations, will be beneficial to their economies.
The landmark agreement was signed on 5 October by the US, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada.
Edelman polled 1,000 businesses and 1,000 consumers in the nations that signed the TPP, excluding Brunei and Peru. The results show that the TPP is largely viewed in a positive light and there is significant awareness of the agreement.
From the company perspective, 52 per cent of businesses feel they are prepared for TPP, and 53 per cent feel it will have a positive impact on jobs. Furthermore,
At the consumer level, 67 per cent believe the TPP will be beneficial to the economy, but only 47 per cent feel it will benefit them and their families. Only 40 per cent of consumers are worried about the TPP’s impact on employment.
US consumers are least aware of the TPP with just 40 per cent; Japan has the highest level of awareness with 95 per cent.
The member nations must now seek domestic ratification of the TPP, which is far from a forgone conclusion despite the partner-level approval. Much rests on the final text of the agreement due to be released shortly; the TPP garnered significant criticism for the secrecy around its five-year negotiation.
Iain Twine, CEO of Edelman Southeast Asia and Australasia, said: "Because each TPP government is responsible for articulating TPP to their nations, and to ratifying within their local parliamentary processes, there are going to be multiple voices trying to push through or shut down the ratification process.
"Our polling shows that TPP is an issue people care about, and the political process will have to take account of these views."
Unsurprisingly, some reservations remain. Malaysian consumers top the sceptics chart, with just 49 per cent feeling the TPP will benefit them.
Interestingly, awareness of the TPP in business was highest in New Zealand and Japan – 97 per cent – but both countries were at the bottom – 17 per cent – in believing it will be an advantage to them.
"It’s a fascinating communications challenge as well as a political challenge," Twine told PRWeek. "Sitting in Southeast Asia you get a sense of people being excited about it.
"We wanted to find out how businesses will prepare. [The data] helps our clients think about their readiness for when the TPP is eventually ratified. They are looking forward to it, but still holding judgment until the text is revealed."
Chadd McLisky, managing director of Edelman’s Southeast Asia & Australasia corporate practice, said: "Everyone must start to review their reputations and business methods right now. All member markets have different priorities, but ultimately all companies are going to face significant new challenges in their marketing and business operations."