Trump hasn’t killed the TPP trade deal — yet
When Donald Trump signed an order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal which he refers to as “the horror,” the rest of the countries were clear: The deal is dead without Trump.
But some of the co-signatories might be changing their tune, as they begin knocking on each others’ doors to rebuild the deal from the ground up. A new report from the Canadian Parliament suggests that bilateral deals could replace the wide-reaching TPP. As it stands, the existing agreement cannot be ratified without the U.S. on board — and if that doesn’t happen soon, the current terms will expire and the deal will be essentially dead.
The Canadian study, published by the Parliamentary Committee on International Trade on Monday, recommends that Ottawa start taking steps towards negotiating a deal or individual deals with all of the member countries of the TPP.
As it stands, the existing agreement cannot be ratified without the U.S. on board.
The study was conducted over a year-long period, where the committee travelled around the country to gauge views and opinions about the proposed agreement.
While the report acknowledges many of the arguments against the TPP, it nevertheless recommended ratifying the deal — or some version of it — as being the only country on the sidelines would have negative impacts on the Canadian economy, it concluded.
The study recommended that “the Government of Canada actively pursue a trade and investment agreement with Trans-Pacific Partnership signatories, as well as additional trade and investment agreements in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Both the trade-boosting opposition Conservative Party and the trade-skeptic New Democratic Party endorsed the idea that Ottawa should consider individual deals with TPP countries. A spokesperson for Canada’s trade minister told VICE News that they’ll be looking at the reports recommendations and that “we remain committed to pursuing preferential market access for Canadian workers and consumers in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Beijing has pursued its own free trade agreement that includes much of East Asia and Oceania, including India.
Figuring out how to ink bilateral deals was a hot topic at a meeting last month of the main TPP countries, the first such meeting since Trump withdrew America’s support. Around the table were the various signatories to the deal — Canada, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, New Zealand, Singapore, and others — but also, somewhat surprisingly, representatives from the United States and China.
The joint statement from the countries reads that the meeting “canvassed views on a way forward that would advance economic integration in the Asia Pacific.” The meeting didn’t come to consensus, however, with Japan and others taking a fatalistic view over the prospects of a TPP without the United States, while Australia called for a “TPP 12 minus one,” with the ‘one’ being the U.S.
Ultimately, if the TPP countries abandon the existing deal, that is good news for China, which was excluded from the agreement.
Former President Barack Obama made a spirited argument for the deal, contending that the deal would allow America and the West to compete with Chinese ambition in the region.
Now many of the TPP countries are looking to ink their own deals with China.
In the meantime, Beijing has pursued its own free trade agreement that includes much of East Asia and Oceania, including India. Known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, it would cover nearly half of the world’s population.
And now many of the TPP countries are looking to ink their own deals with China. The Trudeau government is vying to secure access for agricultural goods and oil, especially as trade uncertainty looms over the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico has also held meetings with Chinese officials to explore the possibility of deeper economic ties between those two countries.
Cover: Raul Zamora/EPA