An alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been struck. As announced last week, the revised deal is called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and does not include the United States.
“The deal will be signed in Santiago in March,” said Raj Bhala, the Brennesein Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas Law School, and a Senior Advisor at Dentons. “Now, for most of the post-Second World War history, it was unthinkable that eleven countries in the Asia-Pacific, including major ones, like Japan and Singapore,
would enter into such a massive free trade agreement that had national security implications vis a vis China without the U.S. Now they’ve done it.”
This is seen as a repudiation of the Trump administration’s trade policy.
“If the United States wants to withdraw and not be a part of the Asia-Pacific future in the way it has traditionally been, we will not wait for the U.S. we will go ahead,” Bhala said. “Maybe the U.S. will join. We hope it will in the future, but we’re not going to let its insularity, we’re not going to let its protectionism, we’re not going to let its view of how to deal with China dictate what we think is best.”
Does this mean that the U.S. is no longer a trade leader? Not necessarily, but it does raise questions.
“To those that think that sort of, America’s in decline, it’s an empire in decline, you really start wondering if these TPP eleven are saying, we don’t want America to be in decline,” said Bhala. “We hope it’s maintaining its power, but it sure seems that we ought to go forward on this deal without the U.S.”
At least six countries must ratify the agreement after it is signed for it to come into force.