Wednesday, November 16, 2016

TPP News

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is, of course, dead, as Loomis reports at LGM:
I can’t really comment on how this affects U.S. relationships with its allies in Asia but given the utter disaster that Trump’s foreign policy is going to be, I imagine China is going to be a huge winner in the next 4 years with or without the TPP. Not subjecting even more workers and more national laws to the ISDS courts is a good thing. Rejecting the TPP is at least a sign that maybe, just maybe, the U.S. is going to start revisiting its 50 year tradition of encouraging American jobs to go overseas and then call anyone who questions that as the greatest thing in history a moral monster.
The end of TPP is an enormous victory for China in its own right, right at the start, since it eliminates competition with China's own scheme, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) bringing together Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand. Just as China and India were missing from the TPP, so the United States is uninvited to RCEP, and in this way China will now be setting the terms of trade as well as labor and environmental standards (i.e., none) for the region without the participation of the US.

If you thought the TPP was bad, wait until you see this.

Xi Jinping is already heading on a whirlwind tour of Chile, Ecuador, and Peru (not yet RCEP members) this month, not waiting for the inauguration. Japan and Australia are focusing their attentions on RCEP. I wouldn’t be surprised if President Trump’s new friends like President Xi got him interested in getting us in (with a well-chosen word of the kind he loves to hear, "Oh Donald, you're so smart, I just can't get anything by you"), and Republicans would leap on. “This is the hugest, most fabulous trade agreement ever!”
Not subjecting even more workers and more national laws to the ISDS courts is a good thing.
Only the TPP would not have done that, in the first place because the US already has bilateral agreements including ISDS arrangements with all the TPP parties all the TPP parties are subject to various ISDS agreements, though not all with each other (h/t Craig Welch for the correction):
The United States already has international agreements containing ISDS in force with six of the eleven other countries participating in TPP (Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam). The remaining five countries (Australia, Brunei, Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand) are party to a total of over 100 agreements containing ISDS. TPP will not newly introduce ISDS to any of the countries participating in the agreement.  Rather, it presents an opportunity to establish agreement among the parties on a high-standard approach to resolving international investment disputes..
What we lose with the death of TPP is the protection of a government’s right to regulate that was developed by the Obama administration for this agreement which was meant to supersede the abusive old ones (which now will remain in force).

This is what pisses me off so much, now more than ever since the obscurities of trade policy actually became an issue in the campaign and somehow part of what gave the Democrats such a terrible time in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania (since even though Clinton came out against the TPP, nobody believed her, including me, though she obviously wouldn't have been able to sign off on the thing in any case, so it was a pretty stupid issue right to the end). The Obama policy was intended not to stop globalization, sorry if that's a problem for you but it's impossible anyway, but to tame globalization and make it work better for American workers. TPP was no doubt far from perfect, but opposition to it has made the situation worse in every way.

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