After The 'Maui Meltdown', TPP Has Missed A Key Deadline That Probably Means It's Doomed Whatever Is Now Agreed

from the your-time-is-up dept

In what is being called the "Maui Meltdown" by some, the TPP ministerial talks in Hawaii last week failed to produce the agreement that some hoped for, and many more expected. That's despite the fact that it was billed as definitely the last round. The New York Times has a good summary of the key problems that need to be solved to achieve that elusive final deal:

Tokyo was ready to extend major concessions on American truck tariffs but was blocked by Mexico, which wanted less competition for its own trucks in the United States market.

Canada held firm on protecting its politically sensitive dairy market ahead of elections in October, but for New Zealand, a tiny country with huge dairy exports, that was unacceptable.

And virtually all of the parties hated American protections of pharmaceutical firms, but a compromise on that issue could cost the support of Republicans in Congress.
It's not yet clear when all the negotiators will meet for yet another definitely final round -- some reports speak of one this month, others of a November meeting -- but it's already emerged that sectoral talks are taking place in an attempt to hammer out deals in the areas where problems remain. But an analysis from Public Citizen suggests that it may not matter: it may already be too late for TPP.
Assuming the quickest timeline conceivable under the Fast Track rules, and that somehow a required International Trade Commission (ITC) report on TPP impacts could be completed faster than has ever occurred for past pacts, a TPP vote could take place about four and one half months after Congress is given notice of intent to sign a deal. Thus, negotiations must conclude at the July 28-31 TPP ministerial and a text must be ready for notice of intent to sign by August 1. That text must be publicly posted on August 31. This would allow for a vote the week of December 14. After that, Congress goes on recess and a vote would roll to 2016.
Public Citizen's analysis is detailed -- it runs to several pages -- and errs on the side of assuming the US government can push TPP through the system faster than anything comparable before it. And yet even on that generous assumption, the key deadline -- August 1 -- has not been met, which means that the TPP vote is almost certain to take place in 2016. Here's why that's important:
The political costs of an unpopular "yes" vote for the TPP will escalate if voting rolls into the 2016 presidential election year. Already Democratic and GOP presidential candidates have begun attacking the TPP and their public criticism is generating public attention on the pact’s potential threats of job loss and more. A 2016 TPP vote also would increase the risk that voters could punish those who vote "yes" on the TPP during the November 2016 congressional election.
Every passing day pushes any eventual TPP vote further into 2016, and diminishes the likelihood that it will be successful. The talks will continue, and agreement on the outstanding problematic areas may even be reached, but perhaps it no longer matters.

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Filed Under: politics, timing, tpp

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  1. identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 6 Aug 2015 @ 7:55am

    Be Prepared.

    Still, if it comes to it, I suppose we employ the same tactics as for PIPA/SOPA, that is, Wikipedia blackout, etc, and some improvements besides. The Demand Progress organization is beginning to move into orchestrating personal visits to each congressman's local offices. That sounds like a good idea.

    So let's plan how to do it. Try to get a large number of moms to visit congressional local offices, _with_ their children in tow. If you reach back to the civil rights movement, there are practical details, like arranging transport, to make it all happen. Stuff like where are you going to rent a bus. Who's going to pay for it. You need to arrange an on-board picnic. Again, ditto about payment. Bathrooms. Make sure you spring for a Greyhound-type bus which has a loo. Make sure you have a first-aid and "accidents" kit on every bus. If you are talking about more than one busload you need a planned arrival route, off-loading zones, places for the buses to wait, etc. In short, you plan the whole business like a Marine landing, sans guns. That's what Martin Luther King and company did, back during the Civil Rights Movement. None of this stuff is particularly difficult, but you do have to see to it. If you don't do all this stuff, people will start looking for their own necessaries, etc., and it will not be possible to move them along smartly. If you can get someone to pick up a five-hundred-or-thousand dollar tab for each bus, up front, ratheer than trying to pass the hat among the participants, that contributes significantly to the reliability of the operation.

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