Eleven Nations Sign TPP Without the U.S.

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

We knew this was coming, but today it became official.

Although it's no longer officially referred to as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), eleven nations including our closest allies and trading partners have signed on to the trade pact that was crafted and negotiated by the United States.

A group of 11 nations — including major United States allies like Japan, Canada and Australia — signed a broad trade deal on Thursday that challenges Mr. Trump’s view of trade as a zero-sum game filled with winners and losers.

Covering 500 million people on either side of the Pacific Ocean, the pact represents a new vision for global trade as the United States threatens to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on even its closest friends and neighbors. [...]

“Only free trade will contribute to inclusive growth of the world economy,” Taro Kono, Japan’s foreign minister, told a group of ministers from Southeast Asian countries in Tokyo on Thursday. “Protectionism isn’t a solution.”

The premise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was to effectively replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a more inclusive trade pact updated for the 21st century with additional controls for environmental regulation and civil rights. The idea was to craft a new sweeping trade deal with our North American and Asian partners before China fills the void with their own set of rules.

Unfortunately I can't sit here and say Trump is solely responsible for our withdrawal from the trade partnership. He made the call to do so, but he got the idea from critics on the left from Bernie Sanders to Elizabeth Warren and other liberal celebrities. They gestated the fantasy that we're going to resurrect the white rust belt economy of 1970 and weaponized it against Hillary Clinton. Trump then used their weapon from Clinton's right flank to win over union and blue collar households in the Midwest who foolishly bought it.

Some liberal congressmen and interest groups have continued to play along with Trump in recent days after announcing that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. They humor him to the detriment of the very people they supposedly represent. Even if Trump grants exemptions for imports from Mexico and Canada, Trump's tariffs will likely cost tens of thousands of jobs across a wide range of industries even before accounting for possible retaliation from our other trading partners.

It is not a stretch to say that most of the people directly influencing our economic policy over the past year know very little about our policies.

  • gescove

    The TPP ship has sailed, but I was a critic while it was being drafted. First there were process issues – the language of the provisions were largely written by corporate lobbyists, consumer/labor/environmentalist voices were shut out, the agreement was was slated for fast track authorization, and so forth. There were toothless enforcement mechanisms for environmental, worker, and civil rights protections. Copyright and patent protections were designed to defend high prices and market share against innovation, particularly for pharmaceuticals. Binding arbitration of disputes was given to panels hand-picked by corporations (ISDS) without recourse to the courts. I don’t think Elizabeth Warren was wrong in her critique of TPP.

    • You don’t think it would have been better to participate so that we could potentially have more influence in future negotiations to fix those problems?

      • gescove

        Oh, no. It would have been better to participate and it’s painful to see the US not in a leadership role in the agreement.

  • muselet

    The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) represents –13% of the world economy and the US will not have easy access to a half-billion people until we get rid of our protectionist-in-chief.

    So much winning.