There is “very close to zero” chance that President Obama will get the TPP ratified before he leaves office, Prime Minister John Key admitted today.
His government has previously held out hope that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be passed during the so-called “lame-duck” session of Congress before the sitting president leaves office on January 20.
But this morning the PM said, "The probability of it passing in the lame duck period which is between now and January ... If it's not zero it's very close to zero.”
President-elect Donald Trump slammed the “horrible” TPP and free trade as a whole during the campaign, saying current trade deals cost American jobs. His protectionist stance was central to his successful appeal to working class voters in the so-called "rust-belt" states, and will presumably be a key plank in his re-election effort in four years' time, too.
But Mr Key holds out hope that some kind of revised trade deal could be negotiated with the US, saying Mr Trump is likely to take a more nuanced approach once in office.
Commentator Lance Wiggs disagrees, telling NBR Radio that after his anti-trade rhetoric in the rust-belt states, it will be difficult for the Republican to sign any trade deal.
The Republican-controlled Congress did pass legislation to speed TPP negotiations early last year, but during the campaign sentiment shifted – and in any case President Trump will be able to veto any ratification bill that does make it through.
The TPP, which took a full ten years to negotiate, requires ratification by countries representing 80% of GDP of original signatories to come into force. In practical terms, that means no US ratification, no TPP.
New Zealand’s TPP-enabling legislation – which now seems doomed to be a footnote for the textbooks – has passed its second reading and is now in a committee stage ahead of its third and final vote.
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