China Applies to Join Trade Pact Abandoned By Trump

Written by SK Ashby

The Obama administration spearheaded the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because, in their words, the United States should write the next generation of rules for international trade, not China.

But even though the United States wrote the rules and had the power to change them, the Trump regime withdrew from the deal and gave up the right to make any adjustments.

A dozen countries eventually signed and ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership without the United States and China is now among those who want to join the trade pact, but there's a catch: they'll have to meet the partnership's high standards.

“It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to see how they could embrace the CPTPP rules governing state-owned enterprises, labor, e-commerce, the free flow of data, among others, as well as comprehensive market access commitments,” said Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and a former acting deputy U.S. Trade Representative.

Japanese Finance Minister Aso Taro also expressed doubt that China could meet the requirements. [...]

Others were more confident China will be successful.

“In the long term, they will be able to work out some of the differences, especially as these countries realize that China is going to be the biggest market for them and the U.S. is not going to join anytime soon,” said Henry Gao, associate professor of Law at Singapore Management University, who has written extensively on Chinese law and the World Trade Organization.

Even though China is the largest consumer and manufacturing market in the world, they cannot just waltz their way into the deal because -- as it turns out -- it's a pretty strong deal.

The Obama administration's terms were so good the trade pact will still benefit us even if we're not a member of it.

Like some Democrats in Congress, I'd like to see the Biden administration rejoin the partnership and finish what President Obama started, but I also recognize the White House has many other things on their plate right now. Now is probably not the best time to spend political capital on a debate over free trade that will inevitably devolve once reactionaries on the left and right deploy the same rhetoric they used to oppose the deal five years ago.

I digress, but my own experience watching, learning, and engaging in the debate surrounding free trade made me more supportive of it, not less, and taught me the limits of ideology. Evidence is not always on the side of populistic rhetoric regardless of whose mouth it comes out of.