‘The hype leading into the meeting of ministers from the eleven remaining Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement countries in Hanoi today assumes they can bring the US back to the fold by implementing the original deal.’
‘The notion that a grateful US would re-engage on the existing terms is at best naïve and at worst deliberately misleading’, says Auckland University law professor Jane Kelsey.
‘More realistic ministers would recognise the following’.
‘The US would treat the existing text as a down-payment on something even more self-serving. The desperation of New Zealand, Japan and Australia to resurrect the deal would embolden, rather than diminish their ambitions.’
Professor Kelsey sees Trump’s vehement denunciation of the TPPA, confirmed by his immediate withdrawal of US participation in its implementation as irreversible.
‘It is unclear whether the prospect that US President Donald Trump is impeached and replaced by Vice President Mike Pence, a vocal supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), is behind Prime Minister Bill English’s dogmatic commitment to an agreement that his predecessor declared “dead”’. Or he may simply be playing the long-game until after the 2020 election’.
‘But English and Japan’s Prime Minister Abe are politicians, and they must know the reality’
‘While Mike Pence was a supporter of the original TPPA, the political climate has changed. Pence would have to demand more as the price of re-engaging the agreement, even if he took over as President.’
In 2016 President Obama could not get the original TPPA through the US Congress because it was opposed by both Democrats and Republicans, for very different reasons. New issues such as ‘currency manipulation’ would be toxic for existing players, including Japan.
Some of the Republicans’ key demands can only be satisfied by re-opening the text.
Professor Kelsey points to the fraught issue of new generation biologic medicines. Australian trade minister Steve Ciobo said this week that he wants to change the ambiguously worded obligations that gives Big Pharma guaranteed monopoly rights over their marketing.
Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who is pivotal to any vote being taken in the Senate, has railed against the existing compromise wording and demanded much stronger protections on behalf of the US pharmaceutical industry.
‘The stance being taken by Bill English and trade minister Todd McClay simply sets the scene for further capitulation to US demands’.