from the this-is-not-legacy-building dept
It's still not clear if there are enough votes in Congress, but of course, no one wants to talk about it before the election, because there's so much populist anti-TPP feelings from the public on both parties that speaking up in support of TPP now may harm election chances. Of course, after the election, when elected officials can go back to ignoring the will of the people, things may miraculously shift back to the way they were before.
Meanwhile, the other big "trade" plan that was supposed to be a part of Obama's legacy is the deal with the EU, known as the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership). That's run into lots of trouble as well, and there are serious concerns on both sides of the Atlantic about how it will work. With time running out on the clock, apparently the USTR is now pushing for a "light" version of the agreement so that something is accomplished:
The U.S. and EU countries supporting free trade are increasingly worried that the landmark Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will collapse if they do not secure a preliminary accord before U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office in January.So to "lock in" something, they are looking at taking the pieces they have agreed on, and coming up with a simplified deal. What's interesting here is that the agreed upon parts are the ones that are normally used as the example of why we need TTIP in the first place. In the past, we've joked about how frequently those defending TTIP point to the single example of different automobile standards, such that automakers need to build different cars for each market. And it looks like that issue might make it in TTIP-lite:
They now accept that a full agreement will not be possible by the end of 2016 because of an impasse over agriculture and public procurement, but they don’t want to surrender what they regard as concrete progress made in other fields over the past three years of negotiations.
U.S. and Italian officials are now weighing the option of a “Step 1” deal to lock in elements that can be finalized by December, possibly including joint testing regimes and mutually agreed upon standards for cars, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.So, uh, that sounds good. Why do we need the rest of the crap that they're debating, around corporate sovereignty ISDS provisions -- especially since the entire basis for those kinds of agreements was supposed to be to encourage investment in developing countries. The EU and the US have perfectly decent court systems, so any dispute shouldn't need a special tribunal.
But, of course, those who have relied on shoving all sorts of pork and special interest protectionism through trade deals do not like the idea of a "lite" agreement that covers the officially discussed reasons for a trade deal. Why, that would be horrible! How could they continue to hide all the sneaky stuff they want to get in?
The idea has sparked immediate skepticism in the European Commission and in some EU member countries, which argue that any form of a downgraded deal will be very hard to sell politically, particularly after French Trade Minister Matthias Fekl and German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel turned hostile on the negotiations.And, of course, anything that's "rushed" through may have problems on its own, so there are legitimate reasons to be wary of a "lite" deal anyway. But it is kind of amusing that they might dump all the "good" reasons for TTIP into a deal, and then have to continue to try to justify the rest of the stuff.