Why It's Pointless For Trump To Renegotiate TPP, Even If He Wanted To, And Even If He Could

from the those-that-live-by-the-tweet,-die-by-the-tweet dept

Last month, we pointed out that that pretty much everyone agrees that TPP is dead… except that some still cling to the hope that Trump might be persuaded to carry out another swift U-turn and revivify the zombie deal. As Mike noted, Trump doesn’t seem to be against these kinds of mega-trade deals in principle, it’s just that he says the US generally concedes too much in them. That means he’d need some kind of high-profile win to make TPP 2.0 compatible with his earlier condemnation of TPP 1.0’s terms.

The hope amongst true TPP believers seems to be that Trump could reopen the negotiations, talk tough, and strike a deal that is far more favorable to the US, which he could then ratify, holding it up as another Trump triumph. But in an article on the Cobram Courier site, the Australian ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, says it would be “fanciful” to think the other TPP nations would happily reopen negotiations so that Trump could rewrite it in his favor. Leaving aside the fact that as one of Australia’s top diplomats, Hockey doubtless knows exactly what his government’s views are on this and thus speaks with authority, his logic is simple and pretty inarguable:

If the US gets a better deal out of the TPP then the other 11 countries have to make sacrifices and those other countries are going to find it politically impossible to sell it domestically that they are making more sacrifices than President Trump.

Hockey said that governments in the other nations had already come under intense domestic pressure over the current TPP, and the concessions they had needed to make in order to secure a deal. A new agreement would be even worse, because there’s an extra factor exacerbating the situation:

Those pressures wouldn’t get easier if in a very celebrated way the president of the United States says ‘We got a better deal’ because that means we got a lesser deal.

Despite the prayers of some die-hard supporters, it seems unlikely that Trump could manage to get the other TPP nations to agree to reopen the deal after eight years of fraught negotiations, and then persuade them to sign up to amendments that gave the US more and the others less. But even if he did, it would take only one triumphant @realDonaldTrump tweet boasting hyperbolically of his success — naturally RT’d ten thousand times around the world — for the President to make the new deal irremediably toxic for the other TPP governments, and thus impossible to ratify.

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Comments on “Why It's Pointless For Trump To Renegotiate TPP, Even If He Wanted To, And Even If He Could”

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29 Comments
Eldakka (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Good!

I think perhaps that what AC was referring to with:

The TPP needs to lie in unrest not rest in peace.

Is that if it is ‘RIP’ and left in peace, then it will be forgotten. If it is forgotten, then "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it."

If, however, it lies restlessly, it will be a constant reminder of how bad it is and to not do it again.

TasMot (profile) says:

The way trade deals are supposed to work are as a non-zero sum game where everybody is better off. Since they are discussing it as a “who wins” situation, then they are approaching it from the wrong perspective. Of course, it would really help if it were a trade deal and not a “how can my big legacy company lock in more profits for the next decade” deal.

In a real trade deal, citizens would come out the winners, not the huge conglomerate companies. But we know that won’t be happening with Trump involved.

AEIO_ (profile) says:

Re: It's all Bush's fault.

"they are discussing it as a "who wins" situation … from the wrong perspective … after eight years of fraught negotiations … But we know that won’t be happening with Trump involved."

TPP IS such a lovely document. And I didn’t know Trump had been in control over it for the last 8 years. I wonder who HAS?

Who had control of the House and Senate in 2008? (wikipedia)

There is no question that Democrats had total control in the House from 2009-2011.

(Senate) giving the Democratic caucus a 51-49 majority.

Who has had control of Congress in 2012? (wikipedia)

(Senate) the Democrats, leaving the majority party with a combined total of 55 seats.

(House of Representatives) Republicans @ 53.79% of the vote.

My point being, The Big O has been responsible ("The Buck Stops Here") for that. You want to blame someone, start there and include Congress. If O’s not directly responsible, then indirectly, or IN-indirectly, ad nasuium. He had some influence at least over this.

Trump might fix TPP for a "better" one for debatable values of better; let’s wait and see when one appears in progress or on a finished one on the table.

Like we’d ever get to read it: https://www.citizen.org/documents/analysis-tpp-text-november-2015.pdf

Secret TPP Text Unveiled: It’s Worse than We Thought
As one would expect for a deal negotiated behind closed doors with 500 corporate advisors and the public and press shut out:

Hmmm, WHICH party was mostly in control for the last 8 years? (Don’t misunderstand me, they’re both to blame. But that’s my point: it’s not just [evil] Republicans again [Lilly-white] Democrats.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Real trade is rarely a big part of these deals. Most of the pages are covered with legal minimum standards and swearing allegiance with companies from the other jurisdiction. particularly with regards to making more companies interested in trading/investing/producing across the specific jurisdictional lines, by reducing the legal differences.

IP has been the obsession of USA since the WTO-era started in the 1990s. After ACTA, it has dulled down a bit.

But if Trump wants to go for improving the “relative advantage” in theoretical earnings from the deals, he would have trouble avoiding making the deals much more restrictive on intellectual property…

AEIO_ (profile) says:

Re: Trump: has a working time machine!

Off Topic.

Trump: What CAN’T he do? Now he’s engineered a bunch of FBI agents to help (for various levels of help) discover evidence regarding J Assange in Iceland back in 2011.

I’m no supporter of Assange and think he’s a enemy of the US — that being said, I like and support Wikileaks, As Long As they stay 100% above board and don’t manufacturer findings.

It’s amazing that President Trump (not elect, but PRESIDENT) got in his time machine, returned, and ordered a trip to Iceland for the FBI. I didn’t realize the FBI would accept orders from the future.

https://www.rt.com/news/369878-iceland-fbi-assange-minister/

Wait, he doesn’t have a time machine? Well then who could have ordered this? Oh, but never mind, it’s RT.com — I’m sure they’re on the Prop Or Not naughty list so not to worry as none of it actually happened. Nothing to see here, move along.

There’s nothing else to be found on the internet about this so it’s got to be “Fake News” generated from evil Mother Russia. Oh, and here’s some extra background from their evil brother, Denmark: http://www.thelocal.dk/20140713/wikileaks

The President is not God, no matter who sits in that chair. Stop treating him as such!

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Trump: has a working time machine!

The President is not God, no matter who sits in that chair. Stop treating him as such!

^This.

That whole “Bow to Our Glorious Leader” thing has been creeping me out.

RE: trade agreements being downright nasty if you want to point the finger at a party you would be right to call the Democrats out for NAFTA, which kicked off the whole corporate interest uber alles thing, if memory serves. However, it’s a mistake to assume that the Dems are directly opposed to the GOP in everything. You can’t draw a neat straight line between the two parties as they both have elements that subscribe to a political philosophy called “neoliberalism.” It’s the neoliberals who drive the sneaky FTAs with the toxic ISDS clauses in them. This is why I’m opposed to partisanship; it ignores the fact that there are problems in both parties and presents one as “the good (or less bad than the other) guys” and the other as “the bad (or even worse than the other) guys.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Small side question

Being elected President is the 1st Trump triumph, then draining the swamp into the White House is the 2nd triumph.

But wait, there’s more.
Screwing all those poor people who voted for him by letting them die of health issues that only money can solve, showing the Flint water poisoning case is nothing compared to what is to come, education is only for those that can afford it, & eternal slavery to debt just to stay alive and payable to the elitist bankers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Poor people don't drive

Joe Hockey was parachuted into the most important ambassador position for Australia after becoming the worst Treasurer Australia had the misfortune to endure, however the new Treasurer Scott Morrison is sure trying to beat that claim to fame.

After failing to pass 2 Federal budgets in the Senate attacking the workers, poor, disabled & the old whilst rolling out the red carpet to multinational corporations which bankroll his Liberal Party, Joe Hockey was handed the ambassador’s job when the last Prime Minister Tony Abbott (coal is good for humanity) was knifed in the back by the current tax avoiding PM for Goldmann Sachs, Cayman Islands branch, Malcolm Turnbull.

Joe’s wife was rather happy to move to Washington as she is in the senior executive for one of America’s major banks & considered a move to the head office a step in the right direction for her career. Australia’s swamp is just as murky as the USA’s swamp & if you Americans want to see what happens when the swamp is drained into the top political jobs just look to Australia as we have been there & done that.

Eldakka (profile) says:

Re: Poor people don't drive

While his history as treasurer that you’ve pointed out might indicate he’s a numpty when it comes to actual trade, finances and business, his history in politics, that you also pointed out, means he’s perfectly placed to have an understanding of the politics of getting a trade deal passed. Which is exactly what we have here, the politics of it.

Eldakka (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No, the fast track just means that when passed to congress for vote it’s a "all or nothing" situation. Congress can’t selectively approve or reject parts of the bill, they have to accept it in it’s entirety, or reject it in it’s entirety.

However, prior to it being voted on in congress, there’s nothing stopping the executive from pulling the deal and renegotiating it.

Also, even if it has been voted on, there’s nothing stopping the executive from negotiating a new deal that supercedes the current one, and then submitting the new deal under fast track to replace the existing one.

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