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.