Republican Senate brings TPP shocker closer

ScreenHunter_3418 Jul. 23 10.44

By Leith van Onselen

The AFR is reporting today that the Republican Party’s gaining of a senate majority in the US mid-term elections will likely hasten the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which now could be concluded by the end of this year or early 2015:

Negotiating teams have remained in Australia for the past fortnight in a bid to nail down the deal.

…chief executive of AmCham, Niels Marquardt,… said that the Repub­licans’ victory boosted the prospects of the TPP being concluded this year or early next year…

“Generally speaking, the Republican Party is more unambiguously sup­portive of free trade and more likely to be supportive.

“The Democratic Party has some internal divisions about free trade, which made it difficult for them to move forward on the deal,” ­Mr Marquardt said.

The Japan Times, however, is less bullish, noting that the Republicans may not grant President Obama trade promotion authority (TPA) – which is required to enable the President to negotiate the TPP without congressional debate on the final agreement – until a host of issues are resolved, none of which are particularly easy:

Other nations, especially Japan, are reluctant to cut trade deals unless they know Obama has the authority to get it passed in Congress.

“A Republican Senate and House offers a more straightforward legislative path (to granting TPA). Ultimately, however, presidential leadership is the essential element,” Miller said.

However, a host of nonagricultural issues remain to be solved before Congress is likely to agree to TPA, let alone a final TPP agreement.

Last year, 290 Republicans and Democrats in both houses of Congress called on Obama to address currency manipulation in the TPP talks, a concern U.S. lawmakers have about Japan in particular. But this is an issue that has yet to be fully addressed in the trade negotiations.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that congressional demands relating to the inclusion of currency disciplines in TPP will have to be met for a deal to get through Congress,” said Lori Wallach, director of Washington-based Public Citizen’s Watch, which opposes TPP, speaking after TPP negotiations were held in Australia last month.

“The election results mean that the Obama administration will not be able to step back its position regarding Japan and agriculture in TPP even if it were so inclined, as the demand for tariff zeroing on all commodities comes from the Republicans. Also, the prospect that fast-track will be passed during Obama’s last two years is further reduced by Republican control of the Senate,” Wallach said. “Fast track” is another name for trade promotion authority.

“The version of trade authority supported by the incoming GOP chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over trade does not have wide support in the House of Representatives among Republicans or Democrats, while the Democratic senator that had been chair was working to write a new type of trade authority that might have garnered wider support,” she added.

I noted earlier this year that Senate Democratic majority leader, Harry Reid, was a key obstacle to President Obama gaining TPA. So now with the Republicans in control of the Senate, it raises the prospect of the TPP trade pact passing the necessary political hurdles in the US.

This is bad news for Australia. As explained repeatedly, the TPP is a flawed trade deal that betrays Australia’s national interest. Not only would it grant increased market power to US pharmaceutical and digital firms, increasing costs for Australians via extensions to patents and copyright controls, but it would also limit the Australian Government’s ability to form public policy and regulate in the public interest for risk of being sued by foreign corporations via the investor-state dispute resolution clauses attached to the TPP.

Let’s hope that the Japan Times is right, and opposition from within the US remain strong enough to scuttle the granting of TPA. Because the Abbott Government seems committed to selling Australia out on the TPP for the sake of short-term political gain.

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Comments

  1. “…congressional demands relating to the inclusion of currency disciplines in TPP will have to be met…”

    Woah!! What’s this now?!

    *alarm bells sounding*

    Anyone know more about this (bold) bit in particular?

    • Everyone has to be disciplined by the big brother and dance on his music. Very bad for Australia. Even if they succeed to postpone the TPP for another time, at the end the world will end up with corporates governance and the only role of the national governments will be to extract the last drop of blood from the taxpayers in order to pay to the Lords. Our taxes will be used to feed the guards of global wealth, not to finance our own development and future. No one should rely on the hope that the government will keep any social benefit system alive, but the extraction will be stronger than ever.

      • And as we know the genuine taxpayers are only the working people on wages without property investments, e.g. the future young generations. Poor kids, if they only know what is coming to them…..

    • Been giving Google a belting on this.

      America’s double standards and hypocrisy are beyond reprehensible. Pure evil.

      It really is The Great Satan.

      And Australia is one of his wretched minions.

    • You will notice this is going on everywhere. America is exerting their influence everywhere from Australia to Europe and leaders are bowing down without so much as a wimper and giving in to their demands even though it is CLEARLY not in their soverign self interest. Look at Germany and Italy. Sanctions against Russia are and will continue to have a very pronounced impact on these countries, yet they continue to bow to their master and cut off their nose to spite their face.

      We are just another example of this, with our imbecilic “leaders” allwoing this TPP to be foisted onto us, and also bowing to pressure not to join the new Chinese led initiative for a development bank in the Asia region. Instead of becoming a flagship partner and founder of this intiiave which clearly serves our interest (we are in Asia, though you wouldn’t know that the way our pollies act) and our pollies grovel at the feet of the USA. Their Congressman blatantly encourage their multinatinationals not to pay tax here too.

      Looking at Western media on these issues, one can only conclude it has been completely bought out, or one is placed on a black list for writing any piece that is critical or provides even a balacned view of the way the USA conducts it’s FP militarily and politically.

  2. This is bad news for Australia. As explained repeatedly, the TPP is a flawed trade deal that betrays Australia’s national interest. Not only would it grant increased market power to US pharmaceutical and digital firms, increasing costs for Australians via extensions to patents and copyright controls, but it would also limit the Australian Government’s ability to form public policy and regulate in the public interest for risk of being sued by foreign corporations via the investor-state dispute resolution clauses attached to the TPP.

    This is music to the ears of the LNP, who see US business as their best allies in their campaign to destroy everything Labor has ever accomplished.

    • Say what now?

      In the longue durée view, it is clear that the only thing Labor has “accomplished” is serving as the opposite end of the bought-and-paid-for two-party double-ended dildo that the USA has been reaming Australian citizens with for decades.

      • Union officials taking payments to look the other way on safety issues, and union officials controlling superannuation funds that own the business for which their members work …

        Zugzwang, employees of Australia, zugzwang.

  3. Note that the new US Senators will be sworn in next Januaray, so they won’t have a say in the current TPP negotiation until next year.

  4. I just wish I could find the paragraph in leaked TPP documents that somehow creates value for any Australian business, even when you read all the Australian proposed changes you’re left scratching your head wondering what operating instructions the Aussie negotiating team has? it’s certainly not to capitalize on any real Aussie advantage business IP or otherwise. It’s almost as if Australia sent a team of English majors under instructions that proper grammar be maintained throughout the document.

    One would imagine that such a team of English Majors would at least be acutely aware of the meaning of the term Oxymoron and ensure all reference within the TPP document to “Free Trade” are at the very least presented in a sardonic tone.

    Cant they see that global expansion of the US granted monopoly for Patent rights is the antithesis of free-trade. Make no mistake about it: TPP is a global taxation document, whereby the US govt is conferring Tax collection rights upon those industries that seek to expand / exercise their global IP reach.

  5. Doesn’t the senate have to pass the treaty at our end in order to ratify it?

    God, if that is the case, our only hope is Clive Palmer.