2016 Newsmakers: It’s Taps for the TPP Free-Trade Agreement

It took years to negotiate and one presidential election to terminate.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade accord between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, was poised to be approved this year by the U.S. Congress.

But election-year politics put an official end to that as both presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump made it known they would not back the trade pact.

Now that Trump is headed for the White House, he has made it clear he will abandon the agreement, which took some seven years to negotiate in its current form. He feels it threatens U.S. manufacturers and businesses.

Retailers and clothing importers were eager to see a deal passed because it would have lowered tariffs on thousands of items coming in from member countries such as Vietnam, which is a major clothing manufacturer. It would have also installed uniform intellectual-property stipulations and enforced uniform labor and environmental laws among the member countries.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership was the largest free-trade pact ever negotiated by the United States and would have lowered tariffs on everything from cars to farm products. It represented 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product but blatantly shunned China as a member.

Besides the United States, the other signatory countries were Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Now that the trade pact is dead in the water, some of the signatory countries are thinking about joining trade agreements put forth by China.

Beijing sees this as an opportunity to advance its proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes an even larger group than the TPP club. The 10 members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations would be joined by China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand to form the RCEP Group.