Obama’s Signature Pacific Trade Deal (TPP) “Dead”
US President Barack Hussein Obama’s signature Pacific trade deal is unlikely to pass Congress before he leaves office in January, with growing opposition in both parties and the rise of anti-trade rhetoric in current presidential campaign, experts said.
While acknowledging the political difficulty in trade, Obama on Tuesday said that he isn’ t giving up his push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, a centerpiece of his 2nd-term economic agenda.
Mr. Obama told reporters that some past US trade deals had not delivered on all the benefits that were promised and had very localized costs, but the US should not cut off globalization.
“The answer is, how do we make sure that globalization, technology, automation, those things work for us, not against us? And TPP is designed to do precisely that,” he declared.
Mr. Obama hoped that the TPP trade deal could still pass during the his lame-duck admin after the November general election, he leaves White House on 20 January.
But many lawmakers have cast doubt on a vote for TPP in the lame-duck Congressional session.
Republicans, who traditionally back free trade deals, approved a party platform last month, saying that “significant trade agreements should not be rushed or undertaken in a lame-duck Congress”.
At the Republican National Convention, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump reiterated his opposition to the TPP, saying that the TPP would “destroy” US manufacturing and he promised to never sign massive trade deals again.
Several influential Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), have also expressed their reservations over provisions governing tobacco, pharmaceuticals and financial institutions in the TPP deal.
Mr. McConnell said last month that chances for the TPP to get a vote in Congress this year were “pretty slim”, suggesting that the upper chamber could wait until the next President takes office.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton supported the TPP while Secretary of State, but came out against it after the deal was completed last year. She believed the TPP in current form did not meet her “high bar” for creating good American jobs, raising wages and advancing national security.
John Podesta, Chairman of Mrs. Clinton’ s presidential campaign, said last week that she would not seek to simply “tweak” the language to approve the TPP deal if she became President.
The TPP deal involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam. It was formally signed by ministers from these 12 countries in February after more than 5 years’ negotiation.
The TPP now undergoes a 2-year ratification period in which at least 6 countries, which account for 85% of the combined GDP of the 12 TPP countries, must approve the final text for the deal to be implemented.
For all practical purposes TPP is dead for the rest of this Congress and this administration.