Donald Trump is making good on his promise to use executive orders to dismantle as much of Obama‘s policy legacy as quickly as he possibly can. He has formally canned the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade deal between 11 Pacific nations including Australia.
The TPP is controversial on both left and right. Trump believes eradicating multilateral trade deals is key to bringing manufacturing back to America, whereas critics on the left argue that the TPP prioritises corporate interests. On the other side of the court, the Obama administration argued it would provide a way of matching China’s competitiveness in the region.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer talked about Trump’s move in the administration’s first ‘official’ press briefing, which followed the weekend’s exceedingly weird one about inauguration attendance numbers:
Press Sec. on withdrawal from TPP: The Trump administration “will pursue bilateral trade opportunities with allies around the globe.” pic.twitter.com/ZZWYHEW12P
— ABC News (@ABC) January 23, 2017
The other members of the TPP include Canada, Japan, Singapore, Mexico, Chile, Vietnam, Peru, Brunei and Malaysia.
“Everyone knows what that means, right?” Trump said at the signing ceremony in the White House. “We’ve been talking about this for a long time. It’s a great thing for the American worker.”
Bernie Sanders, who was Hillary Clinton‘s challenger during the Democratic primaries and an opponent of the TPP from the left, praised Trump’s move:
I am glad the Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead and gone. For the last 30 years, we have had a series of trade deals – including the North American Free Trade Agreement, permanent normal trade relations with China and others – which have cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a ‘race to the bottom’ which has lowered wages for American workers. Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multinational corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers, then I would be delighted to work with him.
Sanders has previously said he is willing to work with Trump on trade policy reform, but would fight him on anything which falls back on racism, xenophobia and sexism.
Despite Trump’s constant drumbeat during the campaign that he would axe the TPP, the Australian government has remained hopeful, with Malcolm Turnbull remaining a cheerleader of the treaty.
Trade minister Steve Ciobo, obviously aware that Trump was likely to rip America out of the agreement, said over the weekend that he has been speaking to the other member states to see how they can secure the benefits of the TPP without the United States. That’ll be a tough one.
China is expected to move into the vacuum created by the US’s departure from the agreement, but what that will look like is unclear.
Source: The Guardian.
Photo: Getty Images / Pool.