It seems incredible after all this time and against at times overwhelming odds to finally hear from the Prime Minister, John Key, that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is effectively dead. Mr Key is an ardent proponent of the hugely controversial trade deal, which critics claim will erode sovereignty from the nations that sign it, enable corporations to sue Governments that pass laws they do not like and undermine environmental and human rights protections among other things.
But is it? Not if you believe Mr Key’s former Minister of Trade Todd Barclay who even after Donald Trump was announced the winner of the U.S. Presidential Election, suggested that there was still hope for it. Mr Trump stated repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would revoke the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement along with the North American Free Trade Agreement (N.A.F.T.A.).
It also seems that Parliament, or at least the National, A.C.T. and United Future parties have not gotten the Prime Ministers acknowledgement that there is little hope for the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. Parliament will debate the T.P.P.A. legislation despite all in the House of Representatives knowing that Mr Trump has stated his opposition to it – a move that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters rightfully says smacks of desperation.
And Mr Trump himself is already back tracking on some of the promises he made on the campaign trail. For example, the Obamacare legislation, which many Republican candidates in their primaries said they would kill off as soon as they became President, is now likely to at least partially survive if Mr Trump’s most recent comments are anything to go by. Several people who opposed his Presidential bid, as diverse as Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan and Republican Majority Leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell are strongly in favour of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.
Because the Government seems hell bent on passing the legislation for an agreement that at first glance seems to be toast, it is perhaps premature to say that the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is as dead as we would like. Because Mr Trump has taken only 48 hours to start backpeddling on some of his promises, there is always the risk that the promise to kill the T.P.P. and N.A.F.T.A. might be ditched as well.
So, perhaps, although the anti-T.P.P. movement can rest more easily it should remain on partial guard. And hope that the lame duck session of President Obama’s tenure focuses on better things than a corporate love fest.