Asian countries sign TPP without US

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from in his first days in office was signed anyway by eleven Pacific Rim nations.

The deal, now called the "Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership," is pretty much meaningless without American participation. 

Voice of America:

"Ministers are pleased to announce that they have agreed on the core elements of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership," the 11 nations said in a statement.

Setback for US

"It's a huge setback for the United States," according to Deborah Elms, executive director of the Singapore-based Asian Trade Center. "If you are an exporter this is deeply damaging."

Elms said that while some large U.S. corporations might find alternative ways, with their global networks and subsidiaries, to take advantage of the CPTPP through their global networks, America's smaller agricultural entities look to suffer the most damage, especially those in the dairy, beef and pork sectors who would have benefited from significantly greater access to the Japan market.

"Australia, New Zealand and Canada will suck up that new access," said Elms, who was in Danang for APEC business and trade meetings.

"When Trump abdicated TPP and then told regional nations to go on their own as the U.S. would, it was inevitable that a new formulation of TPP would emerge not only without American leadership, but also without even an American presence," said former U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, Robert "Skipp" Orr.

"U.S. economic interests will have to contend with the consequences of such shortsightedness," Orr, an Obama appointee who previously was president of aircraft maker Boeing in Japan, told VOA.

There is no such thing as an international trade agreement that's a "win-win" for everyone.  All deals have winners and losers, and Trump correctly identified the TPP as potentially making America a loser.

That said, it's also true that international trade agreements benefit some sectors of our economy and hurt others.  The Senate wisely refused to take up TPP, seeing – as Trump did – that the downside outweighed any gains we would have made in bilateral trading.

Nations that now refuse to import our agricultural products are only hurting themselves.  Plus there is nothing to prevent us from negotiating bilateral trade agreements that will benefit our farmers.

The naysayers in the article are taking an extremely narrow view of the TPP for obvious political reasons.  The new agreement is like sending a train down the tracks without an engine.  You simply don't ignore an $18-trillion economy.  That Asian nations are doing so condemns the agreement to failure.

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