Analysis of USMCA trade agreement (aka NAFTA 2.0)

While Donald Trump portrayed the new US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement as the best in modern history (it should at least be an improvement on NAFTA) it looks largely like pro-trade/globalisation business as usual with some weak tweaks.

Stephen Jacobi:

Despite tweaks here and there, USMCA is unlikely to disturb unduly the extensive integration between the three amigos in North America, except perhaps in terms of the motor vehicle industry where the changes are a little more extensive. Mostly though some of the world’s most competitive supply and value chains will continue as before and that is a good thing for industry, workers and consumers in that part of the world.

Financial Times: Nafta Is Salvaged From Trump’s Wrecking Ball

It could have been a lot worse. When Donald Trump arrived in the White House, it was on the back of frothy rhetoric about the awfulness of trade agreements. He had a special animus against the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada, which he called “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere” and which he promised either to change fundamentally or to destroy.

Nearly two years later, Nafta has suffered neither of those fates. Late on Sunday night the US and Canada agreed to revise the deal, clunkily renamed the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement. To be sure, the agreement is generally the worse for these revisions. The US Congress, which needs to approve the deal, should try to improve it, or at least not impair it further. But thanks largely to the determined effort by Canada to keep the pact alive and functional, severe damage has been averted.

Scott Lincicome (@scottlincicome) via Twitter says the agreement is more for (Trump’s) political purposes than practical trade improvements:

“By no means is this a perfect (even great) update to an old FTA. BUT it’s not devastating, maintains free-ish trade in most goods/services, modernizes, and reduces uncertainty.”

“For the US, it’s a missed opportunity to liberalize further & probably makes us less competitive. But the bigger issue is: was the last 21 mos of uncertainty/hostility worth what’s basically “NAFTA+TPP+minor good/bad changes” when you could have just had TPP (maybe even amended)?”

Seems obvious to me the answer is “no,” especially since we’re now gonna do the same song-and-dance with Japan and will (for now) miss out on the TPP’s much-larger AsiaPac integration (and China balancing – the clear, unstated point of much of this).

Meanwhile, the 232 tariffs/retaliation remain, & POTUS may be emboldened to use more “national security” threats to get “deals” that are worse than what we could’ve had BUT help him politically (at our allies’ & long-term expense). That may be the worst USMCA precedent of al.

2) There’s actually some trade liberalization in this deal! (Crazy, I know) Canada opens its dairy market a little (keyword: a little – 0.34%); the US in exchange opens up a little on dairy, peanuts, & sugar. Good for consumers (though not ideal free trade). De minimis raised too.

3) NAFTA was old and needed updating; this deal – just like TPP (more on that later) – includes new, relatively-uncontroversial “modernization chapters” on things like SMEs, e-commerce, non-tariff barriers, etc. Needed to be done, though one can quibble on the margins.

4) Finally, it seems (see caveat above) the USA’s WORST demands – procurement, mandatory US content, 5-yr sunset, guest worker visas, “seasonal” trade remedies, safeguards, etc – were either removed entirely or softened to the point of being practically harmless.

I imagine the US dropping these demands, perhaps more than anything else, is why the deal (which looked dead) got done. Remove the “poison pills,” and the bad/ugly stuff is annoying but (probably) worth nixing the uncertainty & keeping NAFTA alive.

Now, the Bad:

1) Ex investment, the deal includes (and in some cases even expands) many of the “regulatory” FTA provisions often criticized by free marketers because they are intrusive, costly or even protectionist: labor, environment, IPR, etc. Some like IP go beyond TPP.

Whether you like these things or they’re dealbreakers is really gonna depend on your litmus tests & the specific provisions. For me, I don’t see anything in these chapters (so far!) that makes me hope the deal dies in Congress.

2) The deal doesn’t kill most of the protectionism NAFTA left. Eg, many US/Canada agriculture (even dairy) restrictions; services & investment “non-conforming measures” (incl the US Jones Act, sigh). Big missed oppty to *expand* trade in a once-a-generation negotiation.

It also doesn’t fix NAFTA’s broken dispute settlement system (Grumble: maybe if certain parties weren’t so focused on making the deal more protectionist, arguing about “national security” & tweeting insults, they could’ve fixed this stuff. Bah.)

3) The 232 side letters. Yes, quota levels are so high 232 tariffs might never apply to Canadian/Mexican autos/parts, but cmon: these are still quotas that still contemplate NATIONAL SECURITY tariffs on CARS in the NA supply chain. That’s bad on multiple (law, econ, principle) levels.

And the 60-day “consultations” letters implicitly accept a finding that NATIONAL SECURITY TARIFFS could apply to close allies and integral parts of our industrial base. I get the politics, but, systemically, this stinks. This should be a blanket exemption. Full stop.

Finally, the Ugly:

1) Rules of Origin. The automotive ROO are managed trade on steroids, requiring originating (duty free) vehicles/parts to have high levels of not just total regional content, but also steel/aluminum purchases, & “high wage” labor. Many other onerous regulations.

Libertarian principles aside, this will likely decrease the competitiveness of the NA auto sector, accelerate offshoring of small car production & increase consumer costs. It also creates new precedent for other US FTAs & cements these rules into the North American supply chain.

2) The glaring omission: US steel/aluminum NATIONAL SECURITY tariffs, plus Can/MX retaliation, remain in place. So the pain (for almost everyone) continues, even though Trump got his “trade deal” – wasn’t that the point? I guess not (not yet at least).

BIG PICTURE:

By no means is this a perfect (even great) update to an old FTA. BUT it’s not devastating, maintains free-ish trade in most goods/services, modernizes, and reduces uncertainty. YES, Trump caused the uncertainty, but it’s better than where we were 2 months ago

Some of the worst provisions, moreover, are delayed or just side letters or could be amended in the future (ROO by proclamation in the USA). Seems Can/MX “caved” in that they found a deal they could live with and just wanted Trump to Leave North America Alone. OK.

For the US, it’s a missed opportunity to liberalize further & probably makes us less competitive. But the bigger issue is: was the last 21 mos of uncertainty/hostility worth what’s basically “NAFTA+TPP+minor good/bad changes” when you could have just had TPP (maybe even amended)?

Seems obvious to me the answer is “no,” especially since we’re now gonna do the same song-and-dance with Japan and will (for now) miss out on the TPP’s much-larger AsiaPac integration (and China balancing – the clear, unstated point of much of this).

Meanwhile, the 232 tariffs/retaliation remain, & POTUS may be emboldened to use more “national security” threats to get “deals” that are worse than what we could’ve had BUT help him politically (at our allies’ & long-term expense). That may be the worst USMCA precedent of all.

Stephen Jacobi (Executive Director of the NZ International Business Forum) has a New Zealand perspective in “The greatest FTA ever negotiated”

The deal does have some implications for New Zealand interests though:

  • US dairy farmers will gain some additional access to the Canadian market, not a great deal more than under the former TPP and certainly not enough to bring down Canada’s extensive supply management for dairy
  • Canada will phase out its “special milk class 7” scheme under which Canada was able to supply subsidised milk powder to global markets – that will be welcomed by New Zealand exporters
  • Canada will rein in British Columbia’s scheme to allow sales of BC wine in supermarkets, while imported wines were relegated to speciality stores – this was a WTO dispute in the making and will assist NZ exporters. It remains to be seen whether Canadian restrictions on the distribution of wine in other provinces will be reformed
  • The operation of controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) will no longer apply between the United States and Canada (but will continue between the United States and Mexico)
  • The US has extended the intellectual property provisions of the former TPP which were stripped out of CPTPP.

The latter two elements make it both easier and harder to negotiate a future FTA between the US and New Zealand. While the elimination of ISDS will be welcomed by the NZ Government, intellectual property remains a real sticking point.

Implications for China and Asia/Pacific:

One other provision is potentially hu-uge. The USMCA parties have agreed to consult and potentially withdraw commitments if one of them negotiates an FTA with a non-market economy (read: China). This is unusual for an FTA and calls into question future Canadian and Mexican support for the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAPP) which has been on APEC’s agenda for over a decade.

Trump threatens countries who don’t negotiate ‘fair trade’ deals with tariffs

The United States negotiated a wide ranging trade deal with eleven Pacific rim countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Donald Trump withdrew the US as son as he became president. The eleven remaining countries went on to ratify the agreement without the US. Since then Trump has reconsidered – Trump Proposes Rejoining Trans-Pacific Partnership – but hasn’t done anything more than pontificate.

Trump has also attacked other trade agreements and trading arrangements, including with:

With all this chaos going on Trump has just issued another  threat:

Trump may succeed in bullying some countries into better deals for the US, but this ultimatum approach is not good for getting mutually beneficial and long lasting trade agreements.

And it is not good for international relations generally.

Playing the tough guy (except with Russia) may keep pleasing Trump’s dedicated base supporters,

And this is also having an impact on the US, with farm subsidies, already a major factor in trade issues, set to increase.

WSJ: Trump Administration to Offer About $12 Billion in Farm Aid to Ease Concerns Over Trade Disputes

The Trump administration on Tuesday is expected announce a plan to extend some $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers amid growing concerns that the U.S. agricultural sector could suffer from President Donald Trump’s escalating trade dispute with allies…

US agriculture has long been bolstered by subsidies and tariff protection – and still needs more aid to survive. Nuts.

WSJ: The Many Ways Trump’s Trade Disputes Are Affecting the Auto Industry

Auto-industry representatives are expected to argue during a U.S. Commerce Department hearing Thursday that President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on auto imports would cost jobs and increase car prices.

The White House in May asked the Commerce Department to investigate whether it could use a national-security law to impose tariffs of up to 25% on imported vehicles and car parts. Mr. Trump has argued trade barriers are needed to pressure manufacturers to build more goods in the U.S. and expand factory jobs.

WSJ editorial: Trump Rides a Harley—to Europe

Donald Trump’s trade war has been an abstraction for most Americans so far, but the retaliation has now begun in earnest and the casualties are starting to mount. The President’s beloved stock market took another header Monday on news of more restrictions on investment into the U.S., and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is now down for 2018.

The rest of the world can’t avoid being affected by Trump’s trade interventions and tariffs, but at least they can trade amongst each other. In the meantime Trump is isolating the US, and burning a lot of diplomatic and good faith bridges.

Trump’s trade chaos could get very messy, and not just with trade wars.

“Green Party remains firmly opposed” to TPPA

Green spokesperson on trade, Golriz Ghahraman, has said in an email that the Green Partyremains firmly opposed to the TPPA (being signed soon in Chile), but has used anti-TPPA sentiments to try top raise money for the party via Twitter:

While the “new” TPPA deal gets signed in Chile today, the Green Party remains firmly opposed.

The legislation for this trade deal (the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership – or CPTPP) is coming before Parliament this month. The Green Party is the only political party that has consistently opposed this deal from the start.

Why we remain opposed to it, is that the changes within the new text released last month, are not enough to mitigate the risk of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses.

This means our democracy is under threat.

This sounds over the top, I don’t think there is anything in the trade deals that scraps elections in New Zealand.

Our ability to adopt transformative progressive change in the face of threats like climate change and inequality, and our ability to honour Te Titiri o Waitang,i are all undermined by this deal.

As Greens, what is particularly chilling to us, is that where ISDS clauses have been accessed by foreign corporates to stop governments from changing the law, in 85% of cases it has been to stop environmental protection.

NZ should be placing itself among those nations who are seeking to find a fair way to trade without the unfair negative implications for people and nature.

The majority of New Zealanders have opposed the TPPA and the Green Party has opposed this deal from the beginning.

Has there been any measure of opposition on the revised CPTPPA? Or are the Greens trying to historic polls on one thing somehow equate to a revised agreement years later?

We’ve had a lot of support on this issue before, with a majority of New Zealanders opposing the TPPA. And today, people like you are marching against it again. We need your support now.

Here’s the situation. The Green Party has to raise money from as many generous people like you, to cover the costs of running the Party, to strengthen our membership and to grow the green movement you are a part of getting more people like you to come on board.

So she is trying to leverage donations out of TPPA protests.

Too late for the TPPA, unless they have a policy to pull New Zealand out of the agreement after 2020.

Your support got the Greens into government. And now, together, we must bolster the mandate the Green MPs have. The issues that matter most to you, like the TPPA, must be kept in front and centre; to make sure we can have lots of conversations, with more people, who care about our planet and our environment, just like you do. You’ve been a part of making that happen before, and right now it’s vital your voice carries on.

And we must start right now to further Green the government so we can negotiate with greater influence on the direction of trade deals like this. We’d like to see fair trade deals without ISDS clauses.

Perhaps they can oppose the trade deal negotiations with Russia that NZ First are promoting. And the trade deal negotiations with the EU that Labour are pursuing.

CPTPP to be signed (and protested) today

The Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will be signed by the eleven participating countries in Chile today, and a (futile) protest has been organised outside parliament in Wellington.

Newshub:  NZ to sign CPTPP today in Chile

Trade Minister David Parker will join his counterparts from 10 Pacific countries for the signing ceremony in Chile on Thursday.

The deal will eliminate 98 percent of tariffs in a marketplace worth close to $14 trillion.

Mr Parker said the deal would give Kiwi businesses preferential access to Japan – the third biggest economy in the world – Canada, Mexico and Peru for the first time.

The deal had also “increased in importance because of growing threats to the effective operation of the World Trade Organisation”, he said.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s estimates, the deal is expected to give a $1.2 billion to $4b boost to New Zealand’s real gross domestic product.

This included almost $86 million in expected tariff savings for the dairy industry, while the country’s exporters would save about $200m in reduced tariffs to Japan alone.

The TPP 11 includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

In New Zealand protests against the TPP continue, but on a much smaller scale than in February 2016 when the agreement was first confirmed.

A petition has just 5236 signatures.

We request the House of Representatives to urge the Government to reject the revised Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership, and that the House revise the Standing Orders of the Parliament to ensure the process for negotiating and signing trade and investment agreements is more democratic, independently informed, and regularly feeds information back to the Parliament and the people.

There is a protest in Wellington today but I can’t find details.

Meanwhile in the US, who was withdrawn from the TPP as soon as Donald Trump took over the presidency, is lurching towards protectionism with promises of steel tariffs resulting in widespread opposition and the resignation of Trumps chief financial adviser, Gary Cohn.

TPPA protests struggle without party promotions

In February 2016 there were large anti-TPPA protests around the country. Green and Labour MPs were prominently involved. One of the organisers was Barry Coates, who became a Green MP when he replaced Kevin Hague as next on the party list.

With the revised CPTPP without the USA about to be signed in Chile there are protests around the country. Coates is still involved in organising – at 10 on the Green list he lost his place in parliament last year after Green support slipped significantly.

But the protests are struggling to get exposure and support. Labour and the Greens are far less interested or involved.

A protest rally was held in Nelson yesterday, and more will be held around the country today and next week. They are promoting along similar lines as TPPA – It’s Our Future! Don’t Sign! Auckland Rally

Speakers and performers include; Moana Maniapoto, Bryan Bruce, Laila Harre, Jane Kelsey, Mark Laurent and Brenda Liddiiard, Mikey Brenndorfer, and Peter Whitmore.

Our government is set to sign the rebranded Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) along with 10 other nations in Chile on the 8th March.

Following the collapse of the TPPA in the wake of the US withdrawal, the election of the new Government put a spring in the step of many. The Labour Party, New Zealand First and the Green Party had all said they would not support ratification of the TPPA. During the parliamentary examination of the text, Labour cited concerns about sovereignty, secrecy and inadequate economic modelling leading to uncertainty in projected outcomes; the Greens added that the TPPA is “inimical to the imperative of sustainability”; and New Zealand First focused on the anticipated dangers of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

What on earth happened? Labour has done a full U-turn, New Zealand First has joined in on the spin, and the Greens are very lukewarm in their disagreement.

What’s different?
Let’s be crystal clear. The “new” text is exactly the same, the only change being that 22 of the 1,000-plus original provisions have been suspended. These 22 provisions – mainly concerning intellectual property – have not been removed so that they can be revived if and when the United States comes back on board, as the Trump administration has indicated it is willing to do. When pushed on this point, the Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker said that New Zealand could veto any attempt by the United States to join if that would compromise the Labour Party’sfive bottom lines. That, of course, would not stop a different government from giving up important aspects of New Zealand’s sovereignty simply to reduce tariffs for a trifling increase in GDP. And what was the Minister’s response to that serious concern? “Time will tell.”

Even now, in fact, Labour’s bottom lines have not been met. The so-called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) contains all of the core investor protections that are predicted to restrict the ability of Parliament to make laws in the interests of New Zealanders. As far as we know, has been no health impact assessment or analysis of the economic costs and benefits, as the governing parties called for when they were in opposition. The Crown has not discussed how it intends to strengthen protections for Māori, as recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal. And it is all well and good for the Prime Minister to call climate change her generation’s “nuclear-free moment”, but that sort of rhetoric would be undercut by signing up to an agreement that prevents action on environmental concerns by empowering foreign investors to sue, for example, if the Government sought to close coal mines and roll back permits to prospect for offshore petroleum.

The TPPA contains the wrong rules for New Zealand’s future. It threatens to place a frightening price tag on pursuing the policies we need to get out of last century’s fossil-fuelled economy, while at the same time preventing public oversight of this century’s data – driven economy by empowering the private corporations that control intellectual property and the global tech infrastructure while avoiding their fair share of tax. All at the expense of the worker and the patient and the taxpayer and the environment.

Since the TPPA is still not the deal that we want for our country, we are encouraging everyone to show strong opposition to our government signing the TPPA. We will be holding a Nationwide Day of Action on Sunday the 4th of March, please tell your family, friends and colleagues, get together and head along to your closest family friendly action, to send a strong message to the government not to sign the TPPA!.

On Thursday the 8th of March (signing day), we invite you to join us outside of Parliament at lunchtime to send a strong resounding message to the government that we do not want the TPPA or any similar trade deals in the future. It’s our future – the future of our children, we want truly progressive trade deals!

Links to events around the country;

Whangarei: https://www.facebook.com/events/571225906585646/

Auckland:
https://www.facebook.com/events/805505526324341/

Waihi:
https://www.facebook.com/events/155211191848613/

New Plymouth:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1804674232898957/

Wellington:
https://www.facebook.com/events/161873691200281/

Nelson:
https://www.facebook.com/events/143815816431911/

Christchurch:
https://www.facebook.com/events/218094512072247/

Dunedin:
https://www.facebook.com/events/577900969251483/

The numbers signed up as attending on Facebook are quite low:

  • Nelson 18 went (yesterday), 26 interested
  • Auckland 98 going, 247 interested
  • New Plymouth 22 going, 37 interested
  • Dunedin 18 going, 35 interested
  • Christchurch 8 going, 32 interested
  • Wellington (Thursday) 60 going, 125 interested

The Standard and The Daily Blog seem to have virtually given up on protesting the TPPA.

Media “let’s not do this” on TPPA protest meeting

According to The Daily Blog there was a ‘Let’s Not Do This!” public meeting protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership lst night in Auckland, the first in a nationwide tour by Jane Kelsey, Laila Harre and Burcu Kilic.

But the media seem to have a ‘let’s not do this’ attitude to TPPA protest these days, a big change from two years ago. I can’t find any reports.

Even The Daily Blog seems to be largely disinterested given scant reaction shown there.

Here is the only feedback on the meeting I can find, at The Standard:

At last night’s anti-TPPA-11 meeting in Auckland, Laila Harre said that there is no protection for NZ sovereignty over it’s labour/employment laws in the TPP agreement our government plans to sign on 8th March.

Harre has been researching and writing a thesis on it.

She says such agreements cannot protect our labour laws and this needs to be done through the ILO.

Under the TPPA that our government plans to sign, they could be sued for the labour regulations the government is planning to implement.

Harre and Kelsey say that if this agreement is signed, it will be used as a model for other trade agreements.

Kelsey said some in the labour caucus won’t to maintain such a model. But this model is in crisis, and we need to respectful campaign to shift the balance in the government to something more progressive.

National Day of anti-TPPA action on Sunday 4th March.

Demo in Wellington on day of signing, 8 March.

FUrther meetings around NZ before then.

The protest movement seems to be in ‘let’s not do this’ mode.

Media funkstille as far as I can see.

‘Let’s not do this’ anti-TPPA meetings begin tonight

The Government is pushing ahead with the CPTPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). It is due to be signed by eleven countries in Chile in early March.

Opposition to the TPPA has been has been much more muted now that Labour is in Government, and even the Green’s continued opposition seems token.

But anti-trade activist Jane Kelsey is trying to keep the opposition alive with a speaking tour that begins in Auckland tonight.

The Liberal Agenda – Anti-TPPA Live stream, today 6.30pm

The Daily Blog will be live streaming the Auckland ‘Let’s not do this’ anti-TPPA meeting this Monday 6.30pm. The meeting will feature Dr Burcu Kilic, Professor Jane Kelsey and Laila Harre.

As the Government continue to push through this deeply flawed trade deal, this is our chance to push back.

Even support of this is muted, since being posted yesterday morning at The Daily Blog there are just two comments, and only on of those in support.

Harre was a Labour Party supporter last term.

Kelsey is a professor at Auckland University. It is the beginning of a new academic year – I wonder how she manages to get the time for a speaking tour. Perhaps she could tape her meeting and use that as lectures.

Trump orders TPP withdrawal

Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, as signalled in his campaign.

He has warned business leaders he will impose “very major border tax” if companies move their manufacturing out of the US. Unless he also acts on the huge number of companies who already manufacture outside of the US this will give existing off shore manufacturers a big price advantage.

He has also said he intends slashing company tax rates from 35% to 15% or 20%.

BBC: Trump executive order pulls out of TPP trade deal

President Donald Trump has fulfilled a campaign pledge by signing an executive order to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

During his presidential campaign, Mr Trump criticised the TPP as a “potential disaster for our country”, arguing it harmed US manufacturing.

“Great thing for the American worker what we just did,” said Mr Trump as he dumped the pact with a stroke of a pen.

This was well signalled.

He also cut funding for international groups that provide abortions, and freezed hiring of some federal workers.

Also on Monday morning, Mr Trump pledged to “massively” cut regulations and taxes on companies, but impose “a very major border tax” if they move factories outside the US.

“All you have to do is stay,” he told executives from 12 companies including Lockheed Martin, Under Armour, Whirlpool, Tesla and Johnson & Johnson.

After meeting the business leaders in the White House, Mr Trump pledged to lower corporate taxes to 15% or 20%, from the current 35%, and slash regulations by up to 75% if they keep jobs in the US.

As promised Trump will radically change business and trade regulations, tariffs and taxes for the US. How this will affect the US and the rest of the world is unknown – there is certain to be negative effects and unintended consequences.

When the world’s largest economy gets a good shake up it’s anyone’s guess what will froth over the top.

Japan, Australia still backing TPP

After an official meeting the leaders of Japan and Australia have said they were committed to proceeding with the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

RNZ: Japan, Australia both back TPP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement after their official meeting as part of Mr Abe’s four-country trip to boost Japan’s trade and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

In his first visit to Australia since Mr Turnbull became Prime Minister, he said both leaders were committed to ensuring the 12-country TPP trade deal would come into effect.

“On the economic front we agreed that we should demonstrate anew the importance of free trade,” he said.

“We confirmed that we would coordinate toward the early entry into force of the TPP and the prompt conclusion of the RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership].”

There is still a major problem though – Donald Trump has said made a priority of taking the US out of the TPP.

The commitment came despite United States President-elect Donald Trump criticising the TPP as a “potential disaster” for the US and vowing to prioritise withdrawing from the pact.

Mr Abe, who had previously said the TPP would be meaningless without the US, said the countries also agreed to maintain “solid cooperation” with the Trump administration.

NZ Herald report that Bill English says a rethink on the TPP may be necessary in Bill English optimistic about Donald Trump US presidency

One of Trump’s first acts will affect New Zealand’s interests – Trump has pledged to initiate the US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership on his first day in office.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and Japan PM Shinzo Abe met recently to discuss how to salvage the TPP and English said he was not ready to give up altogether either.

“I wouldn’t say it is futile, but I think along with those countries, we need to rethink our approach. It could be as soon as next week that the US executes its position and that means we need to rethink it.”

“I would hope there would be a way of keeping the US engaged in the Asia Pacific and the TPP certainly would have done that. There may have to be some adaptation or some other way of doing that.”

‘Rethink’ may mean trying to do a TPP without the US, unless Trump makes a major reversal on his stance.

Flogging a dead TPPA?

On his trip to new York John Key has been promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Is the TPPA a dead horse?

Today’s Herald editorial still thinks the TPPA is worthwhile – Key plays a strong geopolitical card on the TPP

John Key stated it as plainly as he dared in New York yesterday: failure to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement would be a “massive lost opportunity” for the United States, he said, “because in the end is that vacuum isn’t filled by the United States, it will be filled by somebody else”.

He could have gone further and suggested the “somebody else” could be China. Talks involving China, India, Japan, South Korea, the Asean members and Australia and New Zealand are under way on a project called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Key had no need to spell out the implications to his New York audience, the Council for Foreign Relations, but his real targets are in Washington. Some of them – but not all – are seeking re-election for Senate and House seats. Some will be defeated at the elections on November 8, but all of them retain their seats until the next Congress is sworn in late in January. That “lame duck” period is a chance for legislators to do what is right, though it may not be popular.

Americans are well accustomed to their representatives doing this and they do not protest vehemently enough for the practice to become politically untenable. It almost seems to have tacit approval. The American public and the incoming Congress appear to accept that contentious things need to be done when the Constitution provides the opportunity.

Both presidential candidates say they want to renegotiate the TPP. Hillary Clinton will know, if Donald Trump does not, how long it took to get the TPP to the point of agreement and how hard it was. It would do the partners no harm to indicate to American voters that a renegotiation cannot be taken for granted.

The TPP has not come from nothing. It grew out of the World Trade Organisation’s stalled Doha round, which itself resulted from collapse of communism and almost universal realisation that competitive markets are the source of prosperity. If the US turns inward and protectionist under its next President, trading countries will look elsewhere for global progress.

Is Key wistfully whistling in the Washington wind?

What he or the Herald say will hardly sway the  USA.

Is the TPPA a lame duck or will the lame duck period givbe it another gasp of breath?