Friday, April 13, 2018

We should tell Trump to take a hike

Last month, New Zealand formally signed the successor to the TPPA, the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership. The deal had few benefits for New Zealand, and the primary one seems to be MFAT negotiators not feeling left out, but it had one saving virtue: America wasn't involved. And that meant that it was merely a bit shit, rather than being actively toxic due to US IP bullshit. But now, having pulled out of the TPP and left the other countries to negotiate amongst themselves, Donald Trump wants back in:

US President Donald Trump told top administration officials Thursday to look at rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multination trade agreement he pulled the United States out of shortly after taking office.

Rejoining the pact - now also known as the CPTPP - would be a major reversal as Trump escalates a trade conflict with China. The Pacific Rim trade deal was intended by the Obama administration as a way to counter China's influence, but Trump criticised the pact as a candidate and pulled the United States out of the pact in early 2017.

Trump gave the new orders to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow during a meeting with lawmakers and governors on trade issues, according to two GOP senators in attendance.

Senator John Thune said that he and others at the table raised the point that "if you really want to get China's attention, one way to do it is start doing business with all the people they're doing business with in the region: their competitors."

Trump then told Lighthizer and Kudlow to "take a look at getting us back into that agreement, on our terms of course," Thune said. "He was very I would say bullish about that."

"On our terms" means taking the negotiated position (currently suspended) as a baseline, and then demanding even more regulatory subsidies for US businesses. Which means making the deal even worse for New Zealand (and presumably everybody else as well).

The good news is that the US's re-entry requires the unanimous consent of all CPTPP parties. We can - and should - tell Donald Trump to take a hike.