By Robert A. Vella
The twelve-member pacific rim nations finally reached an agreement on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal today. New Zealand trade minister Tim Groser best described the contentious process over the weekend:
“I felt under as intense pressure as I have ever felt in the last 30 years as a New Zealand negotiator because I felt completely and totally isolated,” he said.
He said it was clear there was a “massive push” to do the deal.
“It’s got the smell of a situation we occasionally see which is that on the hardest core issues, there are some ugly compromises out there.
“And when we say ugly, we mean ugly from each perspective – it doesn’t mean ‘I’ve got to swallow a dead rat and you’re swallowing foie gras.’ It means both of us are swallowing dead rats on three or four issues to get this deal across the line.”
The final text of the agreement may not be released to the public until early next year when the U.S. Congress plans to debate/vote on the measure during the presidential election campaign. Since Congress has already granted the President fast track trade negotiation authority, progressives’ hope for defeating the TPP now ironically rest almost entirely with Republican dissent. One issue which might spur that dissent is an exception written into the agreement preventing corporations from challenging the anti-smoking regulations of member states, and there are other potential triggering issues as well. Furthermore, GOP front-runner Donald Trump has come out in opposition, calling the TPP a “bad deal.”