Back when most people still expected Hillary Clinton to be our next President, there was a lot of talk about how President Obama would try to shove through the ratification of the TPP agreement in the lame duck session between the election and the inauguration — so that Clinton wouldn’t have to flip flop on the agreement yet again. Of course, with Trump elected, that was going to be even more difficult, and now basically everyone in the administration and Congress has agreed that the TPP is dead. There will be no effort to ratify it in the lame duck session, and it certainly seems unlikely that President Trump will push to revive it. While other countries in the agreement may move forward, it doesn’t matter unless the US ratifies. It’s expected that the other major trade deal, the TTIP, is also unlikely to move forward at this point.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we’re out of the water. These agreements may be dying, but not for the right reasons — and that’s what should worry folks. The reason why many of us have been worried about TPP and TTIP is not because of the actual free trade parts of the agreement that involve lowering or getting rid of tariffs — but rather much of the other stuff in there, including dangerous and damaging copyright and patent policies, along with the whole ISDS setup, which is really a provision for corporate sovereignty, giving companies the effective ability to veto certain regulations.
But, that doesn’t seem to be the reason why Trump is against these deals. Rather, almost all of his commentary on these agreements is about how other countries are “winning” and the US is “losing” from these trade deals — and how he’s ready and willing to jack up tariffs and basically set off trade wars with some of our largest trading partners. That’s bad, and will likely cause a lot more harm than good. Furthermore, the fact that Trump is either unaware or doesn’t understand the actual problems with these agreements suggests that there will be ample opportunity for lobbyists to work them in to future agreements. So while the problems of the TPP (and TTIP) are now off the table, there is plenty to watch out for going forward.