New Zealand shouldn’t rush to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement given its “extremely remote” chances of passing into law in the United States, according to an American trade analyst and critic of the deal.
However, Prime Minister John Key has dismissed the concerns, saying he is confident American politicians will ultimately support the free trade deal.
Trade analyst Lori Wallach, who is in New Zealand to speak at a series of anti-TPPA public meetings, said the deal was “in a certain amount of political trouble” in the United States.
“One of the big questions in political Washington is why New Zealand is rushing towards both the signing right now but also the notion of passing implementation, given the prospects that the US Congress passes the TPP as it is – ever – is extremely remote.”
Wallach said the TPPA was “dozens of votes short” in the House of Representatives, with Democrats concerned about the changes to environmental standards and drug patent changes and Republicans opposed to the “carve-out” excluding tobacco control measures from the investor state disputes mechanism.
It is true that Republicans complain Australia and NZ negotiators were too tough and got too good a deal in the TPP. But this does not mean they will let TPP die.
First of all the likely vote is in the lame duck Congress, which will mean there will be some retiring Democratic Representatives and Senators who will be able to vote for it as they don’t need to worry about the Labor unions trying to get them thrown out if they support it.
But you also have to look at the history of major trade agreements in the US. NAFTA was way more controversial than the TPPA, yet it got ratified by the Congress with a 234-200 vote in the House and 61 to 38 in the Senate.