Is the TPP Falling Apart? Let's Take a Look at Where the 12 Nations Are At
As the ratification fight intensifies, we're watching closely as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) winds its way through national legislatures across the globe. So grab your popcorn, and let's take a look at where the TPP stands in each country yet to ratify.
In addition to opposition from both major U.S. presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the TPP recently faced two significant setbacks as Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi came out against the deal and House Speaker Paul Ryan deemed it pointless to even bring it up during the Lame Duck session of Congress later this year.
However, President Obama is convinced he's "got the better argument," for this "political football" and is continuing to push hard for TPP ratification, as claims abound that a failure to do so could have costly consequences for the U.S. as a power in the Asian-Pacific region and in the eyes of its partners. He recently put Congress on notice that the TPP is coming, so it looks like we've a major fight ahead of us this fall.
The new minister of economy, trade and industry, Hiroshige Seko, has not been shy in openly admitting that he wants the TPP ratified as soon as possible and is crossing his fingers for the deal to go through in the U.S. before President Obama leaves office in January. Domestic firms are keen on this prospect, however, not everyone is on the same boat: the deal faces strong opposition in Japan's Tonoku region and from our Fair Deal partners at the Movement for the Internet Active Users.
It's the only country that has achieved parliamentary approval of the deal thus far, by a show of hands in the legislature only days after the signing of the TPP in February. If it's a race to ratification, Malaysia is in the lead — but this is one race nobody should want to win.
Not so fast! Before the TPP goes into force, Vietnam must change its labour protection laws upon request of the the Obama administration, which for Vietnam is a big commitment. Failure to do so may result in higher tariffs for Vietnam, which is a little ironic, considering one of the supposed selling points of the TPP is reducing tariffs between countries. How likely is Vietnam to change its provisions and the U.S. to enforce it? Experts are skeptical, judging by both countries' rather unimpressive track records.
Singapore has (unsurprisingly) urged the U.S. to maintain its pro-TPP stance (because, well, without the U.S. there’s no TPP) and equally, the U.S. regards Singapore as a "rock solid partner" (touché!). Why so much woo for the deal from this nation? Singapore heavily relies on international trade to thrive economically, as exemplified by their successful bilateral deal with the U.S. which earned both nations a cool couple of billion. Also, Singapore is a strong supporter of the U.S. role in Asia's security and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has raised a red flag over damage to the U.S.-Japan relationship if the deal were to fail.
Well, they signed in February and since then things have been rather quiet at this end of the table.
Malcolm Turnbull’s government is known to be a strong supporter of the TPP. However, the Government's Productivity Commission just released its Trade and Assistance review for 2014/2015 in which they raised serious concerns about the TPP’s provisions related to copyright and the (terrifying) Investors-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. Additionally, Australia's opposition party, Labor, has put its foot down and come out firmly against ISDS clauses. So it looks like the government faces an uphill fight if it's to ram the TPP through.
This is where the deal was signed on February 4, in the midst of mass protests in downtown Auckland. Unlike a vast majority of American media that has voiced its skepticism on Obama getting the deal through Congress before he leaves, political experts in New Zealand believe there is still plenty of chance for it to go through before then. Why? Because U.S. political analysts have hinted that it could be introduced to Senate and pass with a slim majority. Political experts in this nation are also skeptical on whether Clinton will turn the tables (once again) on the TPP were she to be elected. The speculation continues (sigh
The rising unpopularity of the deal in Canada may be paving the road to the TPP’s tomb north of the U.S. border. As promised, the government has tasked a cross-party parliamentary committee with hosting a series of nationwide public consultations (check out our reports from Vancouver and Toronto) where people have voiced their concerns and made it clear how disappointed they are in the lack of consultation prior to, or during, the TPP negotiations.
Additionally, the public input submissions for the Standing Committee on International Trade have been extended until the end of October this year. However, Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland has said "there is no rush to ratify the TPP" quoting the fact that no other country has ratified yet (she might have missed Malaysia!) and that we have until 2018 to do so. So we might as well just continue to slowly, but painfully rip off the band aid until then right?
If you're in Canada, make sure to voice your concerns using our Let's Talk TPP tool!
The Mexican senate has begun reviewing the TPP, and expect to have an answer regarding ratification by the end of the year. However, once again, the U.S. presidential elections will have a major role on Mexico's next move -- for instance, Trump will not only reject the TPP but has also said he will annul NAFTA and even build a wall on the Mexican border. We remain doubtful that will encourage goodwill in Mexico.
As of August 17, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had yet to set a date for when it will submit the treaty for parliamentary discussion. Again, its ratification is all dependent on the outcome in the U.S. Some people, like ex-U.S. ambassador to Chile, Gabriel Guerra Mondragón, have deemed the deal dead in the land of the free. However, an advocacy group called "Chile mejor sin el TPP" (Chile better off without the TPP), which has been quite vocal in its opposition to the deal since the beginning, has recently flagged Clinton's and Trump's anti-TPP stances as mere political strategy. And our valiant allies at Derechos Digitales are continuing to push hard for Chile to reject this reckless deal.
Peru recently submitted the TPP to the Congress for approval on July 21 and its Prime Minister, Pedro Cateriano, has claimed that the deal is supposedly key to the development of the country. The newly elected president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, said he will sign the deal once it’s been approved by Congress, which could tentatively happen by the end of the year. So it looks like Peru is ready to dive in, head first.
A New Player?
The Philippines has shown interest in the joining the deal and recently held an informal conversation with (you guessed right!) the U.S. But similarly to Vietnam, it would require constitutional changes for the nation to join. Their timeframe for TPP membership? Uncertain, because so is ratification.
What's the takeaway judging by the current status of the agreement in the 12 nations?
It's well known that without Japan and the U.S. there is no TPP. In order for the TPP to be brought into force, six of the 12 countries will need to have ratified and together those countries must comprise 85 per cent of the total GDP of the 12 original nations that signed the treaty. The U.S. and Japan alone account for nearly 80 per cent of the total GDP of signatories. So that says it all.
But most importantly, what it boils down to is: Will the TPP make its way through the U.S. Congress before Obama steps down? It remains uncertain, very, and that will ultimately have a domino effect on all other nations. We'll be working hard to ensure that as many people as possible have a chance to speak out before and during the lame duck session, and you can be sure that the TPP won’t be getting an easy ride this fall.
Or in other words, as editor of the Financial Times Shawn Donnan, recently said: "The deal [is] not quite a dead duck, but 'a duck on life support.'"