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A stalled TPP bad news for liberalization

By Amitendu Palit | China Daily | Updated: 2016-09-07 07:47

The prospects for the passage of the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement by the US Congress look bleak. Both US presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, are critical of the TPP. Although US President Barack Obama will try hard to get the TPP ratified before leaving office, the current anti-trade political sentiment in the United States makes the task extremely difficult for the Obama administration.

If the Congress does not pass the TPP during Obama's term, the next US president will have to take it to the Congress. And no matter who the next president is, he/she is likely to propose major revisions to the current TPP agreement. But revising and renegotiating the agreement will be very difficult. The other TPP members are unlikely to agree to renegotiation as they have already worked on achieving domestic political consensus before agreeing to the TPP. Further renegotiation on any issue prompted by shifts in US interests would create new political challenges for other TPP members. As a result, the TPP may get stalled indefinitely.

The failure of the TPP will have several implications. The agreement was widely promoted as a 21st century gold-standard trade agreement. It is probably the most exhaustive trade agreement drafted so far with more than 5,000 pages and 30 chapters. It includes many issues that are hardly discussed at the World Trade Organization and are absent from most bilateral and regional free trade agreements such as labor and environmental standards, government procurement rules, e-commerce and investor-state dispute settlement.

A stalled TPP bad news for liberalization

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