With all the recent talk about CISPA and ACTA, it seems like we’ve been forgetting about our old friend TTP, or Trans-Pacific Partnership. For those who need a recap, TPP is essentially ACTA for the U.S. and Pacific nations. The only key difference is that TPP has been negotiated in complete secrecy and it’s only through leaks that we’ve been able to keep up with what’s going on.
TPP finally poked its head out a few weeks ago and in public no less. Foreign Policy magazine reports that U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk was in Singapore talking up TPP. He was confident that all talks regarding TPP were to finish by the end of July leading to the treaty being signed in by all member nations.
It seems that Kirk is being a little too optimistic, because Foreign Policy spoke to many of Singapore’s “diplomats, journalists and academics.” Their take was that TPP was actually far from being ratified and might even be dead soon. The reason? The Obama administration has been apparently rushing to get the treaty ratified before the election, but has left out key partners from negotiations.
Those key partners are Canada, Mexico, Japan and China. Foreign Policy explains that getting Mexico, Japan and China on board will all be challenges for very different reasons. Even worse still is that Chile, once considered a major supporter of TPP, is also starting to question whether or not TPP will benefit them in any way.
It looks like TPP, from the start, was a deal created between Singapore and the U.S. to strengthen the presence of the U.S. in Southeast Asia. Other countries that were roped into the treaty are now starting to see this and backing out. Why would they sign an agreement that only benefited two countries? It makes no sense. Foreign Policy puts it best:
This is the problem with trying to use trade deals as tools of diplomacy. It may sound nice and positive for two countries to say they are tightening their relationship by doing a free trade deal. But eventually at some point, someone has to count the jobs and the balances of trade and financial flows. Typically, deals done primarily for geo-political purposes don’t add up, and when they don’t, all the “strengthening of commitments ” in the world often doesn’t save them.
Unlike ACTA, which is dying due to strong public pressure, TPP seems to be dying from its political ambitions and mismanagement. In somewhat of an ironic twist, the U.S. may be the straw that breaks TPP’s back. It was reported by Huffington Post last week that Congress is now wanting to kill TPP as well because of a part of the treaty that would ban “Buy American” provisions.
Whether it be from China’s unwillingness to join or America’s own rushing of the treaty; TPP seems to be on the ropes. It’s unclear whether it will be knocked out yet, but it’s not looking good. If the treaty isn’t signed by November, I expect the Obama administration to scrap it.
Do you think TPP is dying? Or will the U.S. and Singapore salvage it? Let us know in the comments.