The fate of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) popped up for discussion during a press briefing yesterday at the New York Foreign Press Center of the US Department of State.
This occurred, considering that both the Presidential candidates; Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, have opposed its ratification and enforcement.
Uncertainty over the TPPA’s fate is a source of concern not only to partner states, but also within the United States itself; particularly those who rely heavily on foreign markets to sell their products.
Sharyn O’Halloran, professor of political economy and international and public affairs at Columbia University in New York, sounded optimistic about the US economy, as she elucidated the economic and trade indicators in the backdrop of the Presidential electioneering.
Recently, Clinton has been, conspicuously, quiet on the TPPA - implying that she may have softened her opposition to the TPPA.
This stance comes even as Trump has been severely critical of trade agreements, particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) which, he said, would be re-negotiated with the other Nafta members, Canada and Mexico, from scratch.
On this, O’Halloran said that such a move would hurt most of the export companies.
Refuting Trump’s argument that this would bring jobs back to the US, she added that it was not true “that we will all of a sudden become furniture producers - and so forth".
She added that if, in fact, the United States exited from Nafta, it would have to fall back on the WTO, multilateral trade agreements.
“If he’s (Trump) saying he wants to exit the WTO and the GATT agreements, okay, then that would be a complete unraveling of the world - post-World War 2 international architecture,” she said.
When asked by Bernama to comment on the prospect of the TPPA becoming a reality - given that the US has signed the agreement, but yet to ratify it; O’Halloran said that this would not be the first time the US had signed an agreement but not ratified it.
“All of our international agreements have to go through a domestic ratification process. In the case of trade, it would have to go through what’s called fast-track procedures, which requires congressional approval," she said.
O’Halloran added that there would be strategic implications about the US not ratifying it.
“Finding a way for a member of Congress - those members to be able to move and to support that agreement; at the same time understanding the strategic importance of having a broad partnership within the area, I think, is going to be the real challenge or opportunity for the next leader,” she said.
Malaysia, for the record, is a signatory to the TPPA agreement.