The TPP Lives On
One of the first things President Trump did was pull out of the TPP.
So that's that, right? Not so fast.
The other 11 nations moved ahead with the now renamed Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
More importantly to you and me, Trump is doing what Obama flat-out refused to do - renegotiate NAFTA. It's here where you hear echoes of the TPP.
The damaging TPP chapter on intellectual property has been introduced, which would increase prices on medications by lengthening patent exclusivity, and aggressively enforce copyright of music and movie content. (If this is enacted, borrowing a friend’s CD could be a trade violation.) The tech industry is trying to maintain its dominance by writing into NAFTA that virtually no limits can be placed on data, whether for privacy or security reasons. And the financial-services industry wants to force deregulation by setting limits on rules through the agreement.
Some of the worst elements of the TPP are about to be incorporated into a renegotiated NAFTA.
Another part of NAFTA that people want renegotiated is for stronger labor and environmental standards.
Now, the Trump administration doesn’t support stronger labor and environmental standards in the United States, let alone in a trade agreement. So far, Lighthizer has only proposed the language from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is wholly inadequate.
So more of TPP in NAFTA, which doesn't really change anything.
However, before you get all depressed, there is a couple pieces of good news.
This includes a way for countries to opt out of the destructive investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) scheme, where companies can sue governments for lost expected profits from changed regulations. The US proposal wouldn’t eliminate ISDS, but would let countries leave the system, and would throw out the worst aspects of the process.
It's only a half-step in the right direction, but it's a start.
The second piece of good news is that the TPP language has strong opponents - Silicon Valley.
The U.S. wants to limit allowances for online use of copyrighted material in Nafta, according to two people familiar with the U.S. proposal. That could upset companies like Google and Facebook, which would see that as less supportive of online platforms than existing U.S. law.
The third piece of good news is that the re-negotiations aren't going well, and NAFTA just might collapse in the process.
Some are giving it a 50-50 chance.
The Democrats appear divided over the NAFTA talks. Bernie Sanders is pushing Trump to be firm in the negotiations.
“When Donald Trump campaigned for president, he promised that he was going to stop corporations from shifting American jobs to Mexico,” Sanders said Wednesday at a rally for the #ReplaceNafta movement in Washington. “For once in your life, keep your promises.”
In related news, Trump is also pushing to re-negotiate KORUS, the free trade agreement between the U.S. and South Korea.