by Glyn Moody

Filed Under:
asia, china, eu, free trade, tpp, trade

In Latest Twist To The Global Trade Deal Saga, EU Now Looking To Fill The Gap Left By US In Exiting TPP

from the so-is-Europe-a-Pacific-rim-country-now? dept

Remember the good old days, when trade deals were so boring nobody even cared they were happening? That started to change with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, (ACTA), where the copyright industries rather foolishly tried to slip in some proposals that would have had big impacts on the online world. As Techdirt reported at the time, that led to an unprecedented awareness of, and resistance to, ACTA that ultimately caused its defeat in the European Parliament.

After that, things were never the same again in the world of trade deals, because digital activists were now on the lookout for the bad stuff hidden in the stultifyingly dull language. They soon found it in TPP, which people realized was basically "Son of ACTA," but worse. Then came TAFTA/TTIP, which publicly dropped its ACTA-like elements in a desperate attempt to stave off criticisms and mass protests. That didn't work, of course; TTIP soon ground to a halt, and remains in limbo. Even though TPP was eventually concluded after years of delays, it was derailed by the election of Donald Trump as US President, who promptly withdrew from the deal. But if you thought things had finally quieted down for a while -- TISA too has dropped off the radar recently -- think again. There's a new twist in the global trade deal saga, as the Handelsblatt newspaper reports:

The European Union is positioning itself to fill any vacuum left behind by the United States as the Trump administration spurns trade deals in Asia and Latin America.

E.U. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said Brussels has been in close contact with several Asia-Pacific countries since the White House decided to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"We have seen that many of the TPP countries are now approaching us and saying 'we still want to do deals,' " Ms. Malmström told Handelsblatt. "We are engaged with basically all of them, either negotiating or have a deal or preparing negotiations."

Yes, those wily Europeans are trying to take advantage of the US's apparent withdrawal from multilateral trade negotiations to stitch up deals with the other Pacific rim countries that have just been left at the TPP altar. An agreement with the EU, whether individually or as a bloc, could be a good option for the ex-TPP nations. It would allow each of them to move forward with a trade deal after expending so much political capital on the failed TPP, and it would show that being jilted by the US is not the end of the world. For the EU, it would signal that it can take the initiative and become the flag-bearer for free trade at a time when Trump seems to be embracing protectionism, and turning his back on Europe.

It's early days yet, and if the previous five years have taught us anything, it is that nothing is certain in the world of trade deals. It's still possible that the Trump administration will perform a U-turn and embrace TPP, perhaps with some token changes to justify the move. But of one thing we can be sure: we're not going back anytime soon to the days when trade deals were boring.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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  • identicon
    pigtailsforsissys, 24 Feb 2017 @ 3:59am


    man, end the trade deal shenanigans now stupid people. make actual trade deals that deal with trade not the inter friggin net you useless cowboy sissy girls.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2017 @ 5:44am

    president trump never negated trade deals. he flushed fraud called tpp. there still will be deals. one on one with leveled play field protecting us.

    think about it, all these slave labor factories build in tax free zones in cambodia now stand empty, and wall street shysters got huge hit. that makes many unhappy about djt.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2017 @ 6:09am

    Are there trade deals that are actually about trade? :v

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2017 @ 6:16am

    I thought TPP was a bad deal which would result in no benefit to the US and that's why Trump dumped it. One of Trump's few smart moves. Now I'm learning it was really Trump's protectionism embracing, and back turning on Europe!? What did I miss?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2017 @ 7:40am


      Trade deals good, TPP bad.

      Modern multilateral commercialistic deals have often gone from trade agreements to political agreements on making laws more similar and giving more economic recourse for comanies losing money because of changes to laws from the specific deal. They are essentially a way to freeze legislation so nobody can change it without losing a lot of money and/or breaking the treaty and face WTO consequences.

      Now Trumps former statements have indicated that he is in the diametrically opposite camp. By making quotas of import and increasing tariffs you are really hurting domestic companies competitiveness in the longer term.

      Both are bad and very unfavourable for either the companies or the governments ability to heed the publics needs.

      The oldschool "free trade" is reducing quotas, discrimination and tariffs, to ensure as smooth a trade as possible for the company, without causing either country to freeze laws or compensate companies.

      Ideally you want oldschool free trade agreements. Trade agreements should not be a place for legislative freezes or governments punishing anything/anyone that wants to cross a border. If they need to happen, these matters should not be dealt with in a trade agreement or specifically at a border...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2017 @ 6:53am

    you missed nothing. wall street is desperate to put these slave factories in vietnam to use asap. it is last call before all of europe wakes up as well.

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

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 24 Feb 2017 @ 8:03am

    Remember the good old days, when trade deals were so boring nobody even cared they were happening?

    I certainly don't! I was in middle school when NAFTA happened and I still remember the uproar from people predicting the problems it would (and eventually did) end up causing.

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

  • identicon
    stosh, 24 Feb 2017 @ 9:55am

    With Brexit passed, Francexit, Polandexit, and others soon to follow, any EU trade deals would seem to be small potatoes

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

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 27 Feb 2017 @ 2:47am

      Re: -exit...

      RE: Brexit, I'm waiting to see what will happen. The EU is terrified of being broken up and if the Right wins a big enough majority to a) provoke a referendum and b) to succeed in demonizing the EU, it'll happen.

      While the doom 'n' gloom predictions haven't quite come true on the economic front, I've been told I should perhaps be worried about my status as a foreigner living in Britain. I'm Irish.

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

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