Despite Trump's Pledge To Kill It, Some Still Hope TPP Will Live Again, As Rival RCEP Stumbles Too

from the idea-whose-time-has-passed dept

As Techdirt wrote last month, there's little prospect of Donald Trump being able to re-negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, for reasons to do with the political realities in other countries. That hasn't stopped the true believers from continuing to clutch at straws in the hope that TPP might somehow come back from the dead. For example, here's the view from New Zealand:

It remains to be seen whether the United States will pull out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Prime Minister Bill English says.

Here's Australia:

Australia has declared the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) not dead ahead of key trade talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Sydney on Saturday, despite opposition to the trade pact from U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

Even in the US, people are still hoping against hope because of things like this:

Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state Rex Tillerson said Wednesday (Jan 11) he is not against the recently negotiated Asia-Pacific free-trade deal, putting him at odds with the president-elect who has vowed to scrap it.

However, it's worth noting that the very next day, a "Trump transition policy adviser" stated categorically:

"TPP is dead. I cannot stress that more strongly," said the adviser, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly for the administration that takes office on Jan. 20.

"TPP, or a multilateral agreement that looks like TPP but is called something else, is emphatically dead."

Supporters of the trade deal are trying to paint that decision as a defeat for the US and an opportunity for China, as the New York Times reports:

walking away from TPP may be seen by future generations as the moment America chose to cede leadership to others in this part of the world and accept a diminished role. Such an outcome would be cause for celebration among those who favor "Asia for the Asians" and state capitalism. It would be disastrous for supporters of inclusive politics, rule of law, and market economics -- and for U.S. national interests.

China is part of a rival to TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which manages to be even worse than TPP. The assumption has been that RCEP negotiations will grind on until they reach a successful conclusion. But there are some interesting first signs that may not happen, analyzed here on the CNBC site:

the contrasting priorities of the RCEP players are proving to be the biggest obstacle to success. Members are floundering to bring RCEP to conclusion and they have postponed the deadline from Dec. 2016 until the end of 2017, pointed out Meredith Miller, vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group.

One of the most contentious areas regards affordable access to generic drugs:

Japan and South Korea are suggesting IP policies that may increase medical treatment costs and restrict access to affordable generic medicines for people in several countries, prompting vocal backlash from New Delhi ministers as well as international health organizations. India is often dubbed as the 'pharmacy of the developing world' for its massive production of generic medicines that treat communicable and non-communicable diseases.

TPP foundered on the fact that it offered precious few benefits to the general public, and plenty of downsides. It looks like RCEP is hitting the same problems. The "other" Pacific deal's difficulties may be a further sign that the era of massive global trade deals like TPP, TTIP and TISA, all negotiated in secret, and all now in doubt, may finally be over. We can probably expect smaller-scale, bilateral deals to become the norm instead.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 2:20am

    "We can probably expect smaller-scale, bilateral deals to become the norm instead. "

    Still negotiated in secret and not giving a damn about the citizens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 4:50am


      Par for the course.

      Our deals will be the greatest, no one has better deals than we will. We will have such great deals that you will get tired of having such great deals. Would you have such great deals under Hillary? .. emails ... Bengazi .. Bill ..

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 4:38pm

        Re: Re:

        Small deals are easier to break than big ones. I still call this a win even if he does screw us a wee bit at a time instead of all of us at once in every orifice possible.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      hij (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 4:55am

      Re: smaller scale deals

      Either that or India will resurrect the movement of non-aligned nations but do so with trade in mind. India is the proverbial elephant in the room and can shift the balance whichever way they move. Given their prime minister's nationalism and ambitions India may just decide to go its own way.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 6:36am

    With zombie trade agreements rule number two applies
    - double tap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 18 Jan 2017 @ 9:23am

    Bad massive deals made in secret negotiations are bad.
    However, small scale ones would be even worse as they would encourage venue shopping. Worst case scenario would be small scale deals, each with "corporate sovereignty clauses".

    The only proper solution is a large scale deal discussed openly and voted democratically. Without "corporate sovereignty", obviously.
    Not like there's any chance of that happening soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jan 2017 @ 1:32pm

    TPP violates US sovereignty

    Trump would never knowingly allow that.

    Even Bernie Sanders could explain something this simple to Trump.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 19 Jan 2017 @ 1:04pm

      Re: TPP violates US sovereignty

      How so? When the US Senate ratifies a treaty - in exchange other countries similarly holding up their end of the agreement - they turn the treaty into US law.

      I'm against the TPP because of how the ISDS rules can trump local law, and because it extends copyright terms in other countries. But when a country agrees to those rules it does not violate sovereignty. The country itself willingly puts those rules in place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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