The Trans-Pacific Partnership

When it comes to negotiating a multi-lateral international agreement, there’s a tried and true formula. Involve influential members of Congress at every stage of the negotiations. Make some senators part of the negotiating team if possible. The agreements negotiated that way have always been ratified and those that weren’t frequently have not. Needless to say, the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement which, apparently, has had the Is dotted and Ts crossed, did not follow that formula:

ATLANTA — The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday agreed to the largest regional trade accord in history, a potentially precedent-setting model for global commerce and worker standards that would tie together 40 percent of the world’s economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia.

so we shouldn’t be surprised if it’s never ratified. Or maybe it will be, crowning President Obama’s term of office. Time will tell. Magic 8 Ball says, “Outlook not so good”:

It didn’t take long for Sen. Bernie Sanders to bash the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal the United States reached on Monday alongside 11 other countries in the Pacific Rim.
“I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision to move forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will hurt consumers and cost American jobs,” Sanders said in a statement Monday morning shortly after the deal was announced. “Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multinational corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”

Sanders’ statement follows the Obama administration joining with the 11 other countries in coming to an agreement on phasing out a number of tariffs and trade barriers. The Vermont Independent senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate has taken his opposition to the trade deal to the campaign trail where he bashed Hillary Clinton in June for not quickly taking a stand against the deal.

I don’t cite Bernie Sanders as an authority on negotiations or trade but as an accurate weathervane of the views of a good chunk of the Democratic base. I think he advocates what they would if they weren’t trying to keep their numbers in Congress up.

I’ll reserve my judgment until I actually know what’s in the agreement which heretofore has been kept Top Secret. I guess it’s a relief that the Obama Administration can keep something secret. They’ve done a lot better job with the TPP than they have with PII. They’re keeping us on tenterhooks:

Its full 30-chapter text will not be available for perhaps a month, but labor unions, environmentalists and liberal activists are poised to argue that the agreement favors big business over workers and environmental protection. Donald Trump has repeatedly castigated the Pacific trade accord as “a bad deal,” injecting conservative populism into the debate and emboldening some congressional Republicans who fear for local interests like sugar and rice, and many conservatives who oppose Mr. Obama at every turn.

which doesn’t sound to me like they’re particularly confident in the TPP agreement’s popular appeal.

What I particularly want to know is what Japan has agreed to. We already have “free trade agreements” with most of the major economies in the partnership. But not Japan so that’s what I’m interested in.

Keep in mind that David Ricardo would be spinning in his grave if he heard his name associated with the merits of this agreement whatever they might be. This is not a free trade agreement; it is a managed trade agreement and there’s nothing in Ricardo’s work that supports the benefits of such agreements. I want to know who the winners and losers are.

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