US Admits TPP Is Dead, TTIP On Life Support… But Beware Of What Comes Next

from the this-isn't-over dept

Back when most people still expected Hillary Clinton to be our next President, there was a lot of talk about how President Obama would try to shove through the ratification of the TPP agreement in the lame duck session between the election and the inauguration — so that Clinton wouldn’t have to flip flop on the agreement yet again. Of course, with Trump elected, that was going to be even more difficult, and now basically everyone in the administration and Congress has agreed that the TPP is dead. There will be no effort to ratify it in the lame duck session, and it certainly seems unlikely that President Trump will push to revive it. While other countries in the agreement may move forward, it doesn’t matter unless the US ratifies. It’s expected that the other major trade deal, the TTIP, is also unlikely to move forward at this point.

Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re out of the water. These agreements may be dying, but not for the right reasons — and that’s what should worry folks. The reason why many of us have been worried about TPP and TTIP is not because of the actual free trade parts of the agreement that involve lowering or getting rid of tariffs — but rather much of the other stuff in there, including dangerous and damaging copyright and patent policies, along with the whole ISDS setup, which is really a provision for corporate sovereignty, giving companies the effective ability to veto certain regulations.

But, that doesn’t seem to be the reason why Trump is against these deals. Rather, almost all of his commentary on these agreements is about how other countries are “winning” and the US is “losing” from these trade deals — and how he’s ready and willing to jack up tariffs and basically set off trade wars with some of our largest trading partners. That’s bad, and will likely cause a lot more harm than good. Furthermore, the fact that Trump is either unaware or doesn’t understand the actual problems with these agreements suggests that there will be ample opportunity for lobbyists to work them in to future agreements. So while the problems of the TPP (and TTIP) are now off the table, there is plenty to watch out for going forward.

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Comments on “US Admits TPP Is Dead, TTIP On Life Support… But Beware Of What Comes Next”

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Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

> But, that doesn’t seem to be the reason why Trump is against these deals. Rather, almost all of his commentary on these agreements is about how other countries are “winning” and the US is “losing” from these trade deals

And he’s right about that much, at least

> and how he’s ready and willing to jack up tariffs and basically set off trade wars with some of our largest trading partners. That’s bad, and will likely cause a lot more harm than good.

Personally, I’ve always been a fan of Tom Clancy’s suggestion that our fundamental trade policy should essentially be “our markets are as open to your country’s trade as your country’s markets are to our trade.” If you want a level playing field, you could do a lot worse than to make the other guy play by his own rules and see yow much he likes it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You might want to remember how that turned out in his books. I don’t disagree about the idea, btw, just pointing out that it ended up in shooting wars in his books. Unlike Clancy’s fantasy world where the US usually decisively wins the wars it gets into, a real war with the PRC wouldn’t be so open and shut. They aren’t a 3rd rate Middle Eastern military with Soviet era surplus armaments.

Anonymous Coward says:

every government worldwide is doing it’s best to screw over the people and hand total control to mega-corporations! imagine what it’s gonna be like to have no rights, no freedoms, no medication and no say in what happens anywhere, with anything! we are heading fast back to the days when epidemics caused millions of deaths, not because we wont have the medicines to treat those infected, but because those millionaires in charge wont allow it!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Right now Obama is roaming the earth to try and undo the worst of the fallout from the things trump said during the election about international politics.
Tariffs is a no-go beyond a ridiculously low threshold because of WTO. Breaking with WTO would be very dangerous for all industry in USA since a lot of products need to be imported regardless of self-provision. Closing UN is a hillbilly dream. Threatening to close UN unless other countries pays a larger share is fine. Actually doing so… Not so much. Same goes for NATO and the musketeer oath.

From now on Trump needs to cool it down rhetorically, get things rolling internationally and try to avoid further crusades against things he doesn’t understand,

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:

TD has NEVER been about “first to scoop the story”. Yes, you absolutely should go elsewhere if that is what you seek.

TD would have no shame in picking up a story that they missed 2 weeks prior, or a year ago. Who cares, so long as it’s an important story, and TD can offer a new or rare analysis?

Of course, if we’re being serious, you should go elsewhere for “scoops” or “BREAKING!!!” news, and then also come here for “the rest of the story”.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:


I think manufacturing is going the way of agriculture. You have a free-trade ideology that wants are infinite, and increased productivity and lower prices just mean people buying more stuff. In agriculture, this really does not work. There is only so much people can eat. The only way they can really increase their consumption is to eat animals which eat other animals. This has not been much of a success. No one shows any great desire to eat, say, foxes or mink, which live on beef. At sea, the situation is a bit different. Tuna is an example of a fish which is very high on the food chain, but it is cheap and despised. People pay for crab, which is proverbially a bottom-feeding detritovore. By now, of course, all kinds of shellfish are being raised in captivity, and fed mostly on corn, like so many steers in a feedlot. The result of all this is that farmers increasingly make their living by some form of being paid to not grow alfalfa. Just at the moment, it is ethanol production.

Something similar is happening in the major manufactures, such as automobiles. Productivity increases, with more and more robots, but there is really very little additional desire for new automobiles, certainly not enough to absorb the ten or twenty percent annual productivity increases which are to be expected when robots really get going. Airplanes cost more than automobiles, of course, but they are also much harder to fly than automobiles are to drive, and this difficulty really does not lend itself to being overcome by automation. Aviators have a lot of funny stories about people who turned on the autopilot, and flew into disaster. The man who fatally crashed his Tesla in Florida while watching a Harry Potter movie would have been a fairly representative case. This is true for a wide range of manufactures– more money gets you a device which is more complicated, and harder to use, and sometimes, more dangerous.

Even at the top of the ladder, this applies, in areas like health care. Plastic surgeons sometimes do terrible things to women who go to them, wanting “to be made beautiful.” Something like half of American medical expenditure is in the last month of life. What costs is a doctor futzing around when he doesn’t know what the hell he is doing. Perhaps, the worst horror would be the cases of young children, generally little girls, killed by dentists in the course of cosmetic dentistry, giving general anesthetic without the services of a board-certified anesthesiologist.

If you have a system in which people are expected to make their livings from jobs, naturally they will fight over jobs, and this fighting will express itself in import restrictions. The import restrictions won’t do much good, because they won’t do much about productivity and robots. Americans like machines, on the while, and there is very little support for a “Butlerian Jihad.” Donald Trump is not a very intelligent or well-educated man, so, unlike, say, Bernie Sanders, he is not able to see the necessity of finding ways to get off the treadmill, things like guaranteed income.

Look, no one would ever choose to do assembly-line labor, for its own sake. It is just that assembly-line labor has been economically structured as the preferred destination for people with no education and no skills. All they have to do is to endure the pain of repeating the same motions every forty-five seconds for eight or ten hours, and the same thing, next day. Only new, the machine can do it better.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Stick a fork in it, its done ... for now

“… he’s ready and willing to jack up tariffs and basically set off trade wars with some of our largest trading partners. That’s bad, and will likely cause a lot more harm than good.”

In the short run it will cause issues. In the longer run manufacturing will come back to the US, but all manufacturing will be done by robots and not humans. We are already seeing this in China/Taiwan with Foxconn replacing 100,000 workers with 100k robots.

Pretty much everything Trump can do over the next 4 years to bring back the good ole days is already obsolete due to the trends. Solar on rooftops and storage, will be cheaper than nat gas and coal in ~6 years. Manufacturing is slowly being brought back to the US due to automation being cheaper than shipping and labor in third world nations. And the cost will only go down as more automation is used.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

The Wealth Benefits Of Trade

The benefits of trade are seldom discussed, and probably not at all in this political campaign, because they’re like a third rail. That’s wrong, and will result in the wrong policy.

The negatives of trade are well-known. Some will lose jobs to people abroad willing to work for less. That’s a real cost, and any person who loses such a job disproportionately pays the cost of trade.

But the benefits are bigger, and accrue to everyone who buys stuff at lower prices. Since the rich buy more, one could argue that the benefits accrue to them, but the fact is, cheaper goods enable the middle class and poor to buy some amazing products at some very low prices — products that they might not be able to afford without trade.

Trade also brings varieties and diversity of products, which is an arguable benefit to all.

Whenever somebody says “I am against free trade”, it should be a given that they are also saying “and I think we should pay higher prices for most things as a cost of stopping trade.” But Trump, and many others simply don’t understand that the implicit second part MUST travel with the first.

Economists, who usually disagree, are almost unanimous (87%) in saying “free trade is a large and unambiguous net gain for society*”.

The question, therefore, should not be whether we support free trade or not, but rather: how do we ensure a more equitable sharing of the gains from free trade?

Note: I’m not talking about the TPP, which is less about free trade, and more about corporate greed and control.

*Case for Free Trade:

Anonymous Coward says:

Whether its NAFTA, TPP, or TTIP, I expect any renegotiated deals to possibly address ad blocking and make it illegal.

Another possibility is that DMCA-like laws be required that they be modified to remove that requirement for commercial or private financial gain.

Beause of the requirement, you can only be charged with a crime, if you make some kind of money off circumventing DRM, so personal non-commercial use of circumvention tools is not a crime, but I would expect a re-negotiated TPP, TTIP, or NAFTA to possibly mandate this be changed

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