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Will free trade talks have any bearing on Guam?

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While people from around the world are on island this week for meetings related to the Transpacific Partnership, just how much of the negotiations for a free trade agreement will impact Guam?

Changes in the economy continue overseas and Guam aren't necessarily exempt from the impact. "I would say the biggest event happening right now is the Japanese market is drying up - their economy has not responded as expected to the devaluation of the Yen," noted Bank of Guam senior vice president and chief economist Joseph Bradley. He said because the industry is not growing in Japan nor are jobs or income as expected, the people of Japan are looking at any dollar-based economy as being a very expensive place to visit. He provided these details to the Rotary Club of Northern Guam.

"It means visitor arrivals from Japan, which peaked at 86% 30 years ago, are down to 58% now, so they've fallen almost 30% in terms of market share," he detailed.

Fortunately Bradley says Guam's tourism numbers were picked up by other countries like Korea and China. And while other global events are out of our control, Guam currently plays a role, albeit as the host for recent meetings, related to negotiations of a free trade agreement as part of the Transpacific Partnership. "I think the impacts in Guam would be fairly minor," he announced. "I think one of the most important things for Guam is the trade and services provisions that are expected in this new trade agreement."

What can come out of the TPP, he says, is possibly several high end service industries from the Americas setting up offices on Guam in order to remain on us soil enjoying all the US amenities. Details meanwhile have been limited on the meetings and Bradley says rightfully so, saying, "I think it's important that in a negotiating situation that these meetings be closed so people can be more frank and candid and not worry about the camera looking over their shoulder at what they're doing, and I think also this is a delicate enough politically that it's important that before they have an agreement gel that they be able to try all sorts of options that may not be popular in a standalone basis, but may come together like a jigsaw puzzle to make a very good trade agreement."

He says along with the tourism and military defense industry, a possible third industry could be created with what comes of the TPP.

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