Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is in tatters (and that’s good)
Robert Kuttner writes America’s Collapsing Trade Initiatives:
Chinese president Xi Jinping will be in Washington this week on an official state visit. President Obama had hoped to impress Xi with an all but sealed trade deal with major Pacific nations called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to demonstrate that America is still a force to be reckoned with in China’s backyard.
But Obama’s trade policy is in tatters. The grand design, created by Obama’s old friend and former Wall Street deal-maker, trade chief Mike Froman, comes in two parts — a grand bargain with Pacific nations aimed at building a U.S.-led trading bloc to contain the influence of China, and an Atlantic agreement to cement economic relations with the European Union.
Both are on the verge of collapse from their own contradictory goals and incoherent logic. […]
A final round of negotiations in Maui in late July for the Pacific deal, featuring trade ministers from the 12 participating countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam), ended in deadlock and revealed multiple schisms. The ministers will try again in late September, at a session in Atlanta, but they are no closer to agreement.
Australia, New Zealand and other nations reject special interest provisions designed to help giant pharmaceutical companies resist the use of generics. Several countries object to U.S. efforts to lengthen patent and copyright protection at the expense of the public domain. Japan is resisting US pressure to import more rice. New Zealand wants more dairy exports. The Australian government is outraged that the deal would treat tough regulation of tobacco as an illegitimate restriction of profits. And a great deal more.
The U.S. negotiators, increasingly, are prepared to give away the store, to get a deal. The most pathetic and revealing capitulation involves rules of origin for automobiles and auto parts.
(Image by Ron Cogswell-CC)