Trans-Pacific Partnership Moves Forward Without U.S.

On January 23, three days into his administration, President Donald Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement with eleven other countries. Many thought that was the end of TPP.

But last Saturday, at the APEC Summit that Trump also attended, the 11 remaining countries agreed on a blueprint for finalizing the deal— without the United States.

The accord, now officially called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, looks a little different from when the US was part of the negotiations. Twenty provisions that were once part of TPP—most having to do with intellectual property—have been eliminated.

Ironically, the new deal was announced on an Asia trip in which Trump intended to press forward with his notion of entering bilateral trade agreements with Asia-Pacific countries. If the new TPP goes through, that may spell the end of the cornerstone of Trump’s trade agenda.

The absence of the US from the agreement could hurt US farmers and small business owners, Steve Okun, a trade consultant and former US transportation department official told CNBC, but larger companies might be okay. “They may be able to fit into TPP-11 like Japanese companies can fit into NAFTA,” he said

But farmers and small-business owners depending on exports will be at a disadvantage with respect to their competitors from countries in the agreement.

One Australian commentator was gleeful about the continuation of TPP without the US. Australian exporters “are better off without the participation of the United States in the trade pact, Vesna Poljak wrote in the Financial Review.

“By the time it is fully implemented, the tariff on wine exported to Japan will fall to zero, from as high as 27.2 per cent, creating an advantage for Australian producers at the expense of Californian wineries in the Japanese market,” she noted. “It does not end there, Australian companies will also be able to compete for government procurement contracts in all TPP 11 economies.”

The main message of the emergence of TPP 11 is “that there is a place for multilateralism,” according to Malaysian trade minister Mustapa Mohamed. “We hope,” he told CNBC, “that corporate America will continue to use their influence to persuade their administration to come on-board.”

Source: Global Trade

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