In the wake of the unexpected win of Donald Trump, people in many fields are starting to re-examine their assumptions about what might happen in the next few years. One of the areas impacted by Trump’s success is trade in general, and trade deals in particular. For perhaps the first time, the 2016 election campaign put trade deals front and center. They may even have contributed to Hillary Clinton’s downfall, since many found her sudden conversion to the anti-TPP movement unconvincing, to say the least.
Given Trump’s vocal antipathy to TPP, even its strongest supporters are recognizing that it is now in trouble. Here, for example, is John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, and one of the cheerleaders for the deal:
[TPP] would have been nice to have, but we’re not going to have it in the short term.
The leader of the main opposition party in New Zealand agreed:
[TPP] seems to be dead in the water now.
A close Trump supporter, Senator Jeff Sessions, told reporters at Mr Trump’s victory party last night the proposed deal was now “dead”.
Of course, “dead” is not an absolute term in politics. TPP may be dead in the short term — something underlined by US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate’s soon-to-be-top Democrat — but that doesn’t necessarily mean completely dead forever. New Zealand’s Key had some thoughts on what might happen next:
Does that mean there will never be an attempt to re-negotiate it? No, because President Trump will get the same advice from the State Department, from the Pentagon, from the Treasury that President Obama got, which is that you need to have influence and you need to have presence in Asia and to do that free trade locking you in there is the way to do it.
Re-negotiating TPP is going to be painful for all the other participants, who doubtless thought and hoped it was all done and dusted. It will be particularly awkward for Japan, because this just happened:
Japan’s House of Representatives voted to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and passed a related bill Thursday, despite diminishing prospects for the ratification of the pact by the United States following Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election.
That might stand as a warning to other TPP nations that are on the brink of ratifying the deal. Given the huge uncertainty surrounding its fate, holding off would be a very sensible move at this point — something that Key himself needs to remember before he pushes through New Zealand’s TPP Amendment Bill.